To know how human brain may be storing all types of data in its memory it would be better if we first understood how we store various types of data in the memory of the computers and the mobile phones. So I may brief you in short how we store data on our memory devices.
METHOD OF RECORDING THE TEXTUAL AND NUMERICAL DATA
Since the use of computers began with the processing of only textual and numerical data we entered into the digital data-recording business through the technique of recording the textual and the numerical data. We record such data by assigning an ASCII code using one byte for each character as well for each numeral.
Though human mind also treats a numerical data and the textual data differently, it treats the texts also just like an image for the purpose of recording it as a data.
We break an image into a matrix of 256 pixels x 256 pixels, each pixel comprising of three bytes, the first byte used to record the intensity of the Red colour, the second byte to record the intensity of the Green colour and the third byte for the intensity of the Blue colour to record the colour of each square by recording the content of the Red, Green and the Blue colours which are measured on a scale of 0 to 255, say (which needs 8 bits of memory-space) with the help of colour-filters arranging the information in the form of an array of squares and by adding information on the number of rows and the number of the columns in which the image may have been broken down.
METHOD OF RECORDING THE AUDIO DATA
Audio data is captured by a set of microphones which work as the ears. Much the same way as the ears differentiate various types of sounds by sensing the changes in the air pressures created by the sounds in our ears the microphones also convert the changing pressures into analogue electric signals which are converted into digital form of bytes and we record the sounds in the form of a sequence of bytes. The audio data takes the form of a graph with time shown on the X-axis and the value of air-pressure on the Y-axis. This graph is converted into a matrix of bytes much the same way as an image is converted into a matrix of pixels. Each point on the graph serves as an audio signal.
METHOD OF RECORDING THE VIDEO DATA
Video data is also recorded much the same way as audio data with the only difference that time is recorded as X-axis data and the image part of data is recorded as Y-axis data. Each point of the graph in case of video recording serves as a video signal.
Samples of audio data are picked up at a sampling frequency of 48,000 samples per second which is approximately double of the frequency our ears can catch and discern.
Since capturing a still image 20-30 times per second and then playing it back at the same pace yields a fairly convincing illusion of continuous movement we take about 20 to 30 samples of visual data per second to record the video image in digital form.
We, of course, also store the information of the sample size and the sample frequency also for the audio and the video data in the headers of the data.
VARIETY OF DATA WE STORE IN OUR MIND UNLIKE COMPUTERS
While we store only visual data, audio data or video data on the computers or the mobile phones, we store a much larger variety of data in our memory.
Just imagine, are you not able to recapitulate the taste of the things you may have eaten somewhere long back, the smell of the place where you may have gone long back, the humidity of the place, the temperature of the place, the level of the visibility of the place and the location of the place also? Are you also not able to recapitulate what may have been your age at that time? If you may have got injured at some time, are you not able to also recapitulate how hard you may have been hit or which part of your body may have got injured or how much painful it may have been to you when you got injured? If somebody may have touched us we remember who may have touched us, where he or she may have touched and the reason or intention of touching as well as the duration of touching not just the dialogues or the visual expressions of the individual. Or don’t you think you can vividly recall what sort of feelings may have been aroused in your mind at such time?
Now imagine if we need about 150 gigabytes (GB) of memory- space to record even a video data of 90 minutes at the rate of 30 frames per second, 480 rows per image, 640 pixels per row and 3 bytes per pixel how much memory-space you would have required to store so much of data right from your childhood till today to have stored in your memory in the binary modes used by us for recording only visual and audio data. We should require memory that may run into thousands of yottabytes (YB), thousands of zettabytes (ZB) or thousands of exabytes (EB) not even thousands of petabytes (PB) or terabytes (TB) even if our brain may also be using some data-compression techniques of the type we use to conserve the memory-space on our hard disks and flash drives to save the memory-space since computers store only textual and audio-visual data while our brain stores data of myriad of types.
Not only the tactile data, the taste-data, the smell-data, the humidity and the temperature-data, the level-of-visibility data and the pain-data we are able to recall even the purpose of our visit to a place, the date or the year of our visit, the entire sequence of all that may have happened during our visit as well as the end-result of each event or each visit. We remember even the motive of the person who may have taken us there or may have motivated us to go there. So it naturally needs million times more memory than any computer may need.
Question arises how the human brain may be storing so much of data in its memory.
Most wonderful thing is, all of us seem to have that much of memory in our brains.
It seems to have become possible only by the virtue of the fact that human brain has much better options at its disposal. It is unimaginable whether we could have ever used such options for the computers.
We could think of the only the off and on positions of a switch to settle down on the concepts of bits, bytes and pixels and had to feel happy about it but look at the possibilities how our brain may have been storing such a variety of data in our memory since beginning.
Though it may be also using the binary concept, it may be probably storing its data in the form of existence of a protrusion or the existence of a depression (intrusion) on the surface of a biological cell of the brain. But its bytes may not be of eight bits only nor its pixels maybe of only 24 bits. Its bytes or pixels may be of as many as hundred bits or even a thousand bits or perhaps even more than a thousand bits.
It is not too difficult to imagine the possible way how it may be storing so much of data day in day out.
Since we store our data on the biological cells, quite possibly we may be having our bits in the form of the protrusions and depressions (intrusions) on the surface of the cells as shown in the following figure. Protrusions may be the 1 bits and the depressions may be the 0 bits.
The above figure shows only 19 protrusions. But make a guess how many protrusions or intrusions a cell of brain may have all around it. 100? 1000? 4000?
Whatever be the number that number would be the size of a biological byte if we may use the term “biological byte” to delineate the biological bytes from the bytes we use to store data on the computers or on our mobile phones.
Though the above figure is intended to only explain the concept – not to depict the exact number of protrusions or intrusions a cell may have, I think our brain may be storing the data we hold in our memory in the form of bits represented by the protrusions and intrusions of the type depicted by me in the figure.