Brain’s Memory Storage Similar to Computers

Brain’s Memory Storage

The brain’s memory storage can be understood by comparing the brain’s biological systems to how computers store data, particularly short and long term memory.

RAM is a Computers Short Term Memory

Computers are machines which have hard drives and Random Access Memory, (“RAM”) for memory storage.  For any data to get into a computer, it must be loaded into the computer. This process may start by typing words into a word processor on a computer. But computers also receive information through internet connections, as well as any number of input devices such as scanners and external storage devices.

This webpage as it was drafted was stored in RAM, before saved to the internet server. RAM is the computer’s electronic based memory. By electronic based memory I mean the data storage that is there only as long as there is power to the computer.  If your computer loses power, you lose what you have not saved.

The one area that my computer is clearly different than a brain is its ability to organize and find things that are saved. Our minds do it instinctively, quickly but in a system that even scientists are incapable of comprehending. Our computers have an operating system that converts those things inputted in the electronic based memory into language based indexes.  Macintosh computers have a Finder.  Through use of the Finder and the Spotlight very little that is stored on a Macintosh, cannot be found. If you have a Microsoft operating system, you may not be so fortunate.

Processing Speed A Limitation on Computational Capacity

Computers and our brains are both constrained by processing speed.  Today’s computers are so fast that processing setbacks happen less frequently, but it was not so long ago that a computer could do nothing else while it was printing a document.  Now the processing setback is more noticeable when downloading large files from the internet.  Computers are also limited by the speed of the CPU (central processing unit) and the efficiency of the connection between its various component parts – RAM, hard drive or network.

Brains have similar kinds of memory and processing limitations.  Computers were invented to do things that were too time consuming for our minds to do.  The two most significant advances in computer technology occurred because we wanted a device that could add/subtract/multiply/divide for us (the calculator) and a device that upon which we could write and correct words (the word processor.)


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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