Human Memory Capacity is Larger than Expected

Posted 23 Sep 2008 at 16:21 UTC by steve Share This

According to an MIT news release, cognitive neuroscientists studying human memory capacity and visual memory have discovered that the brain's ability to store information is "much higher than previously believed or shown". The researchers showed a series of 2,500 images to test subjects for 3 seconds each. Later, they were show pairs of very similar images and asked which they had seen earlier. The researchers were surprised to see recall rates as high as 92 percent. Timothy Brady, one of the researchers, said, "To give just one example, this means that after having seen thousands of objects, subjects didn't just remember which cabinet they had seen, but also that the cabinet door was slightly open". While we still don't know the total memory capacity of the human brain, the researchers were able to prove that the minimum amount of long term storage needed to for test subject's performance would be 228,000 bits. So, if we're burning up 28 kB of memory for simple tasks, the total amount available must be significantly larger than any previous estimates. Big changes are needed to existing cognitive models to account for this and there may be implications in AI research as well. For more details including samples of the image sets used, visit the MIT Massive Memory website and read the full paper, Visual long-term memory has a massive storage capacity for object details (PDF format).

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