Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How memory works: Not like we thought?

Were we wrong all along about how memory works?
Apparently so, according to a recent New Scientist article:
It was originally assumed that the number of memories was proportional to the number of neurons in a network. Given that even 1 cubic centimetre of the brain's cortex contains about 50 million neurons, it seemed that the brain could indeed store masses of information. However, this model relied on the notion that each neuron is connected to every other neuron, whereas a neuron is actually connected to between 5000 and 10,000 others.

But that's not true, it's not even close, according to new research by Yasser Roudi and Peter Latham at University College, London .

Even with 10 000 connections per neuron, the neurons could only store 100 memories, irrespective of how many neurons constitute the network. But that means the brain must use multiple networks to store memories. The problem is, it would then need to store words in many different places. Latham concludes that we don't know how the brain does it. Hmmmm.