The Human Brain Is Really, Really Fast

Your brain has billions of neurons that send messages through synapses once or twice per second. That adds up to a whole lot of activity. In a single second of your life, your brain's synapses fire more than 18 trillion times—and that's on the very low end.

Related: Our Brains Are Way More Powerful Than We Ever Thought

Your Brain By The Numbers

Human brain, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Your brain has about 85 billion neurons. Those neurons send signals across tiny spaces called synapses—of which you have 18–32 trillion—at a rate anywhere from 0.1–2 times per second. That means that somewhere between 18 and 640 trillion signals are zipping around your brain every second.

Related: Mini-Brains Could Be Huge For Brain Research

Your Brain Vs. A Supercomputer

To put that in perspective, let us introduce Japan's K Computer. Ranked as the fastest supercomputer in the world in 2011 (it's since been demoted to seventh), that machine performed a massive simulation back in 2013 that was designed to mimic the activity of the human brain. Its nearly 83,000 processors created a simulation of 1.73 billion virtual neurons connected by 10.4 trillion synapses—roughly 1 percent of the human brain. With all that mighty computing power behind it, the machine successfully simulated one second of human brain activity.

The only problem: it took the computer 40 minutes to do it.

Related: Here's How Long It Took A Supercomputer To Simulate The Human Brain

Still, experts saw this as a success. Just the fact that a computer was able to simulate brain activity from 1 percent of the human brain means that in the future, a full brain simulation may be possible.

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Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Videos About Your Brain

Your Brain Is Amazing

Let's list the reasons why.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. If unfolded, your cerebral cortex would cover about the same area as an unfolded newspaper. 00:08

  2. There are 643 km (400 mi) of capillaries delivering blood to your brain cells. 00:42

  3. The brain has no pain receptors. 00:56

Brain Vs. Computer

Two challengers enter, one challenger leaves.

Mapping the Brain Down to .0001 Cubic Inches

It's the next big goal in neuroscience.

Written by Curiosity Staff January 21, 2017

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