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May 27
Drawing of Purkinje cells (A) and granule cell...
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I have written previously about it is all about information and energy, when talking about life and the brain.

Well, I came across a poster that provided some raw data regarding this subject at the Canadian Neuroscience meeting.

The lead author was C. Howarth, and the senior author, Attwell. This group was trying to calculate the energy and information cost of Purkinje cells, which are found in the cerebellum. Their conclusion was this:

… for each Purkinje cell (and associated other neurons and glia) approximately 10 to the 11th power molecules of ATP/s are used per 5 kb of retrievable motor information, corresponding to an information storage cost of 1 mW/Gb.

Now off the top of my head I don’t know how this compares with the computers of today, and don’t have the time today to look it up, for I need to head to the last day of the conference. But I sometime find this type of data a good reminder (though I shouldn’t need one) is that our brain is just a processor of information from the outside and inside environment for the purpose of enhancing our survival and propagation.

Maybe someone with more in-depth knowledge of computers/information processing could compare and contrast this above neuronal data with computers.

4 Responses

  1. JB Says:

    where’s the next post? I feel my brain atrophying with disuse.

  2. CC Says:

    Haha, me too!
    This is like the 6th or 7th time I checked with no new post.
    No pressure Ward ^!^

  3. Nick J Says:

    Are you sure that it’s 1 mW/Gb, not 1 mWh/Gb? Because it’s not the amount of power it takes to retrieve the information, but instead the amount of energy. If it was 1 mW for five days to retrieve a Gb, wouldn’t that be different than 1 mW for a second?

    If it is in fact 1 mWh/Gb, that would be not too much better than an average flash drive, which should be able to reach ~10 mWh/Gb. If it’s 1 mWs/Gb or something, it would be hugely (~10000 times) better, which I think is more likely.

  4. Ward Says:

    Nick J.

    thanks for the comment. I will check my notes - I easily could have made a mistake and apologize if I did. Thanks for you insight to catch this potential misinformation. Will get back to you.

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