Grey Matters! Part One

Hi there!

Have you ever sat and thought about how much information enters your brain on a daily basis and of that amount, how much is really useful or relevant?

In an article in the Scientific American, a reader asked,

‘What is the memory capacity of the human brain? Is there a physical limit to the amount of information it can store?’

Paul Reber, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, replied,

‘The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem. You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive. Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes). For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.’

Sorry, here’s some more scientific information for you to take in.

In an article on the website › … › Social Sciences › Psychology, someone asked if the mind records everything that the comes through the five senses, and the answer from Paul King, Computational Neuroscientist, Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience was,

‘Briefly perhaps, but most of the information that passes through the brain is permanently forgotten.’ He goes on to say that,

‘The brain uses numerous heuristics to select what information to retain. To make effective use of a neural network architecture that was not really designed for declarative (factual and episodic) memory, the brain uses an array of statistical tricks to capture information about the past. Information from thousands of experiential moments are consolidated, simplified, and generalized in order to fit as a broad representation of experience as possible into the brain’s finite neural structure. In a sense, the brain makes extensive use of “lossy compression” by retaining enough of the important things so that what is left out will not be missed.’

So, your head is now hurting from all this information and you are wondering how it all relates to English Grammar, right?

Well apart from the fact that the information is fascinating and makes you appreciate the old grey matter, it is extremely relevant.

The old saying, ‘You are what you eat’, comes to mind, as it is the same with what you feed your mind with.

If we are all on a quest to increase our vocabulary and to improve our grammar, then it is important that we read good books/newspapers/magazines; listen to well recorded factual/fictional broadcasts and watch quality programmes.

Our brains, as Paul King says, have the ability to know what to retain, and by challenging yourself to read or watch media that is out of your comfort zone, you have already increased your knowledge base and grammar!

I can only speak from my own personal point of view when I say that reading all kinds of interesting books, and making a note of words in a notebook (which are new to me and later looking them up) has been beneficial.

In part 2, I will be talking about which books and online media I have used, enjoyed and felt that I have benefited from.

Take Care,



One thought on “Grey Matters! Part One

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s