June 22, 2024
Brain Storage

A New Method to Measure Brain’s Information Storage Ability

As we diligently flip through flashcards to expand our vocabulary, our brains adapt and strengthen neural connections, known as synapses. Synaptic plasticity, the ability of synapses to grow stronger or weaker, is evident in our improved recall of new information. However, quantifying the precise changes in synaptic strength and the amount of data they can hold has been a complex challenge for neuroscientists.

Recent advancements from the Salk Institute may provide answers to these questions and offer new insights into the brain’s learning and memory processes. The researchers have developed a novel technique to examine synaptic strength, the consistency of plasticity, and the data storage capacity of individual synapses.

Understanding the Brain Storage and retention mechanisms relies on quantifying the extent of synaptic strengthening and the maximum potential for growth. While scientists can measure synaptic strength based on physical synapse characteristics, determining the precision of plasticity and the data storage capacity is a more intricate task.

Professor Terrence Sejnowski, senior author of the study and the Francis Crick Chair holder at Salk, explains, “We’ve made significant strides in identifying the specific connections between neurons, but we still have much to learn about the dynamics of those connections.”

This new method allows researchers to study the strength of synapses, the precision with which neurons modify that strength, and the data storage capacity of synapses. These findings, published in Neural Computation on April 23, 2024, can enhance our scientific understanding of human learning and memory processes and how they evolve over time or deteriorate due to aging or diseases.

Each neuron in the brain communicates with others by sending electrical and chemical signals. When a message is transmitted, it jumps from one neuron to another, moving from the end of one neuron into the receiving neuron’s dendrites. Dendrites are covered with tiny bulbous structures called dendritic spines, and at the tip of each dendritic spine lies the synapse—the junction where the two cells meet and exchange signals. Different synapses are activated to transmit distinct messages.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it