What Makes the Human Brain So Special

If have about thirteen minutes to spare, I recommend checking out this fascinating TED Talk by neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel, who discovered a new way to count the brain’s neurons — and subsequently unveiled some curious characteristics. (If you have trouble viewing the embedded video below, click here.)

My timing for sharing this lecture is pretty apt, given the recent discovery that the brain has an unfathomably large capacity for storing data, equal to roughly one petabyte. To put that in perspective, Gizmodo notes:

A good analogy is the total amount of data amassed at the U.S. Library of Congress, which is about 235 terabytes. One petabyte is about four times that. Put yet another way, one petabyte is enough to store the DNA of the entire population of the United States twice over. So our brains may not have the equivalent storage capacity of the entire Web, but it’s still a huge data reservoir.

It is easy to take for granted just how amazing our brains are.


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