The deluge of information in modern times by the media and other information sources has led to daily “bombing” of the average human brain with such a large volume of information which could overload even a powerful computer, according to a new U.S. scientific research.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California-San Diego, under Roger Bon, according to the British “Times of London” and “Telegraph”, believes that people are every day inundated with the equivalent amount of 34 Gb (gigabytes) of information, a sufficient quantity to overload a laptop within a week.
This study has been conducted a few years ago so we are sure this number is much bigger in 2018-2019.
Through mobile phones, the Internet, electronic mail, television, radio, newspapers, books, social media etc. people receive every day about 105,000 words or 23 words per second in half a day (12 hours) (during awake hours).
Although people can not really read these 105,000 words each day, this is the real number estimated to be reaching the human eyes and ears every day. After adding pictures, videos, games, etc., we reach the volume of 34 Gigabytes of information per day on average.
The total consumption of information from television, computers and other information was estimated (for the U.S.) to be 3.6 million gigabytes.
Traditional media (TV and radio) continue to dominate the daily flow of information with about 60% of hours’ consumption. The study considers that our brains are not directly threatened, but does not exclude a detrimental effect or information “flood” which might lead to different development path of the human brain by creating new neural connections, given that our brain has now shown that it is “malleable” and can be “wired” each time differently, depending on the quantity and quality of the stimuli it receives.
According to the researchers, the main effect of information overload is that the human attention to focus is continually hampered and interrupted all too often, which does not help in the process of reflection and deeper thinking.
As commented by the American psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, “never in human history, our brains had to work so much information as today. We have now a generation of people who spend many hours in front of a computer monitor or a cell phone and who are so busy in processing the information received from all directions, so they lose the ability to think and feel. Most of this information is superficial. People are sacrificing the depth and feeling and cut off from other people.”
In a more hopeful manner, neuroscientist and professor of physiology at Oxford University, UK John Stein, stressed that in the Middle Ages, when printing was invented, people were concerned that the human mind would not withstand a lot of information, which however was not true at the end.
Bono, who did the actual research, explained that the study did not record how much information from these daily 34 gigabytes eventually is absorbed by the brain. On the other hand, he pointed out that what has changed in modern times is mainly the nature of the information received, rather than its quantity. As he said, looking at either a computer screen or talking face to face with someone, in fact our brain can absorb the same amount of information.
A face to face conversation has its own equivalent of bytes of information (not known how much), since the brain monitors the expressions of other people, listens to the tones of their voice, etc.
According to the assessment of Bono, if such a face to face conversation causes our brain to store information with rate of 100 megabits per second, then a two-hour conversation with someone will store even more information than the estimated volume of electronic information received within a day in our brain.
How much information can the brain store?
So a question naturally comes to mind: If our brain is loaded with so much information every day, will it get full after some years? Paul Reber, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, states that our brain will certainly not get full in our lifetime.
As Reber explains in www.scientificamerican.com, we have close to 1 billion neurons in our brain, with each neuron forming connections to other neurons and being capable to hold many memories at a time. So, he estimates that our brain’s memory storage capacity is around 2.5 Petabytes. This is a huge memory capacity that can hold an estimated number of 3 million hours of TV shows. So don’t worry about it, our brain’s capacity is big enough to handle all this information overload successfully!!