The brain is perhaps the most important component of any system. Irrespective of whether it belongs to a machine or a human being, a very important part of that are memory units that serve as storage vault facilitating fetching, storing and modification of information. It is a well-known fact that machines are modelled upon the human brain and there exists several similarities between the two. However, the mechanism for storing information by the two is very different from one another.
The human brain, despite being good at storing information, is not as efficient when it comes to retrieving it. Computer memory stores a kind of master dictionary/ map known as meta data, that makes accessing information a lot efficient. Each bit of information is stored in uniquely identifiable memory location analogous to a bank vault where each memory address corresponds to a set of bits. A computer knows where a certain data is stored, irrespective of the amount of information. This is observed specifically while storing significantly large data storage, where the observable latency is low, if not absent. The human brain, on the other hand accesses information arbitrarily and accesses stored memory when triggered with appropriate clues and cues. For example, a certain smell might remind someone of a birthday party that he or she attended decades ago.
SENSITIVITY TO CONTEXT AND PRIORITIZING INFORMATION
Another important fact that differentiates the human memory from its machine counterpart, is its sensitivity to context. Students tend to have a favorite study spot, a circumstance that subconsciously enhances or diminishes one’s ability to retain information in that particular moment. Similarly, light music is said to increase concentration during learning. Machines on the other hand, perform uniformly.
A machine memory either exists or it doesn’t- there is no intermediary state at it smallest level. Human memories on the other hand can fade with time. It deteriorates or becomes foggy if not accessed frequently. There are several other sensory cues that helps enforcing a belief. For example, a person is more likely to remember a traumatizing incident or an unbelievably joyous moment than a mundane experience i.e. anything intense.
FILTERING INFORMATION STORAGE
A study conducted by researchers at the University of California-San Diego, under Roger Bon, according to the British “Times of London” and “Telegraph”, believes that people receive an equivalent of 34 gigabytes of data every single day, a sufficient quantity to overload a computer with good storage within a week. So what prevents information overload? Brain storage is a passive process, that has its own filter mechanism that prevents flood of information from getting stored driving us to insanity. It stores what it deems as important. The importance assigned to a piece of memory can either be done through repetition or enhanced sensory stimuli such as an intense experience as mentioned earlier. The manner in which synapses fire inside the brain is much more complicated than simple on and off mechanism of binary devices. There exists intermediary states much of which is yet to be deciphered. A machine memory either exists or it doesnt. The assigned level of importance is mechanical and depends on the fed instructions.
Machine memory on the other hand is uniform .
SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE TWO
A very remote similarity between the two is the long-term and short-term memory i.e. RAM and hard drive memory. The difference between RAM and hard-drive memory can be understood with the help of an analogy. When compared to a desk work space, RAM is the top surface where the objects can be accessed much faster. Hard drive space is much like a closet, from which objects are accessed only when required. Short-term memories are transient surface information that are stored temporarily. For e.g. when we see a picture that information is held on the surface before being replaced. That being said, the old information doesn’t get deleted immediately but fades away with time.
The mechanism by which information is either retained or lost , is a complicated process. Human memory has both its advantages and disadvantages. As a disadvantage, it is not efficient when it comes to storing large amount of raw information. On the other hand, it is excellent when it comes to processing and utilizing these information to create something new – creativity, the ability which made centuries of advancement possible . That being said, we are yet to understand human brain, the most advanced technology that ever existed or will exist. Our intuition might suggest that the human brain is limited. Yet, we are light years away from understanding the element which limits it, or parameters by which we can sufficiently quantify it.
What do you think about the human brain? Post your answers in the comment section.