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I was reading the article, in which it is mentioned that human brain constitutes 2.5 petabytes of memory. This made me wonder how much of the brain is associated with memory itself. If we categorize brain by functionality, such as dedicated areas for visual processing, audible processing, logic processing, memory storage etc, what percentage of the brain is utilized for memory itself?

I speculate that the brain does more memory related tasks then any other. As a matter of fact, almost all tasks for humans requires memory, so perhaps 70-80% of brain might be just to store memory. Is this correct? If not then what percentage of the brain is used for storing memories?

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    $\begingroup$ All of it depending on how you define memory. $\endgroup$ – John Sep 9 '20 at 23:03
  • $\begingroup$ @John could you please elaborate. Memory is defined as "storage" of any abstract object such as past events, thoughts, dreams ..etc $\endgroup$ – gfdsal Sep 10 '20 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ everything you brain does is memory, learning how to interpret sense organ signals, muscle movement, etc is all memory. $\endgroup$ – John Sep 11 '20 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ @John, what about reasoning, cognition, they do indeed differ from memory, althought they utilize memory but I believe the part of the brain that deals with reasoning, cognition, emotions, are not memory themselves. $\endgroup$ – gfdsal Sep 11 '20 at 11:07
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    $\begingroup$ they are learned skills, thus memories. even emotions are plastic meaning their associations can be altered by learning. $\endgroup$ – John Sep 11 '20 at 21:28
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It's difficult to say a number because memory and activity are intermixed. Activity induces long-term modifications in the brain wiring which can be considered as memory, but at the same time, those connections play functional roles. For example, in the retina, the codification of the visual stimuli that are going to be transmitted to the brain is done by a network wiring that is somehow shaped by previous activity. At an ontogenic level, we could think that the brain architecture in any specie is shaped by a phylogenetic memory during evolution. Because of that, I'm tempted to respond 100%, but no rigorous answer can be done as far as I know.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is the answer I was looking for but I still need some clarification. I am interested in the reference for the codification of the visual stimuli that are going to be transmitted to the brain is done by a network wiring that is somehow shaped by previous activity Now I really want to separate out the evolutionary part from functionality part, the functionality of our brain is indeed encoded by external stimuli over the course of the evolution but "given the current state" of the encoded brain, is there anyway to know how much of the brain is memory and how much function? $\endgroup$ – gfdsal Sep 11 '20 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ So for an analogy we can use evalutionary algorithms to shape hidden layers of artificial neural network, once we reach a satisfactory state, we get a function that although has been shaped by evolutionary algorithm (which relies on memory), is still a function and not memory, when this function is later used to train on some data, say image recognition, we acquire weights and biases which can be considered as memory as weights and biases may differ if one has to recognize certain person or a cat. $\endgroup$ – gfdsal Sep 11 '20 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ @gfdsal There is no difference between the memory and function. Memory is held in the synaptic weights in the connections between neurons; nervous system function involves patterns of activity which in turns are governed by those same weights. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Sep 11 '20 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ @gfdsal Neural networks and brains optimize completely different things, because things that are "easy" for biology to do are really hard to do in simulation, and some computations are really easy to do in silico but very expensive in real brains (for example, the distance between nodes matters in brains, it doesn't matter to any appreciable degree in silico). An adult human has almost 100 billion neurons each making thousands of synapses and trained over somewhere between 18 and 100 years. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Sep 14 '20 at 1:57
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    $\begingroup$ @gfdsal This is where I would stop and give the advice I have given numerous people trying to understand relationships between biological and artifical neural networks who are coming from the artificial side...If you want to compare them meaningfully, you need to be an expert in both. So, instead of starting with neural nets and looking for comparisons in biology, you need to start from the ground up in the biology and start learning the biology for its own sake. Then you can start to compare. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Sep 14 '20 at 16:43

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