China Flu Virus Outbreak : Symptoms, Danger and Precautions

Recent outbreak of coronavirus "2019-nCoV" in China  has killed 26 people and infected around 830 people till 24 Jan 2020. Very first case of the flu caused by this new strain of coronavirus was reported during December end in a seafood market in Wuhan. On 23rd Jan all types of travel in and out of Wuhan have been stopped, to prevent the further spread. This preventive measure taken by China has made people of other countries, a bit fearful and eager to know more about this virus and what they can do prevent themselves.

Good thing is that  WHO is keenly looking into this matter and described the travel ban as "very strong" measure to prevent the outbreak.

What is Coronavirus ?

Coronavirus is a flu-virus that causes common cold, but this new strain named "2019-nCoV" is latest one which is never observed before. Prior to this outbreak in 2000s, another coronavirus named "SARS" (severe acute respiratory syndrome) killed around 800 people around the globe. Thats why China want to end this epidemic with least mortality.
Cold virus can't survive more than 24 hours outside human body, so if you have got a package arriving from China then you may rest assured that it won't infect you.

Origin of Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

As told earlier, this virus outbreak strarted from a seafood market in Wuhan, China. Current research suggest that 2019-nCoV came from an animal, possibly snakes. Previous coronavirus SARS also originated in China from bats and civet cats.
UK's National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) says  "You should also avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat)". Apart from other precautionary measures this advice should also be followed. 

Symptoms of Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

This virus infects lungs and infection usually starts with fever and cough. It can cause breathing difficulties and shortness of breath. CDC believes that symptoms of infection may become visible within 2 to 14 days of exposure to this coronavirus. Once a person has successfully recovered from
these symptoms, he/she should not be considered as a possible threat to infect others.

Treatment of Coronavirus 2019-nCoV Infection

There is no vaccine to prevent you from this virus. Just like any other viral infection, treating the symptoms is common in treating any viral infection. Researchers across the globe are already researching this new strain, but it may take some time to make a preventive vaccine.

Precautions to stay safe


  • Wash your hands regularly
  • cover mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing
  • Use thoroughly cooked meat and eggs
  • Close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness should be avoided

Wearing a face mask may save you from direct hit of sneeze, but it doesn't secure your eyes from possible exposure. Similarly a normal surgical mask don't protect you fully from the air coming inwards from sides of mask. 
We hope that this coronavirus won't spread further and strong steps taken by China will help other people around the globe in staying safe.

AI in Health Sector outperforming traditional Medical Science

Today Health Sector is not just about medical science that can prescribe us medicines or operate some parts of body. Health Sector of 21st century include electronic engineers, mechanical engineers and programmers apart from the regular medical practitioners. Today health sector has gone beyond treating diseases and disabilities, today it is enhancing the capabilities of human body with help of those scientific equipment which were previously just a part of science fiction movies. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is helping health sector in designing those equipment that can help doctors in diagnosing a disease with more accuracy, operating a medical condition with robotic hands, peeking inside human body with nano-technology or creating prosthetic legs that can work better than a natural one.

Lets look at some modern marvels of health sector made with use of AI and engineering.

Hugh Herr Bionics

Dr Hugh Herr, an MIT professor, lost both his legs due to tissue damage and now he is designing bionic legs that are better than anything else on the planet. Recently he demonstrated his own bionic legs and how he along with his team made a dancer, who lost her one leg in a terrorist attack, dance on the TED stage with a bionic leg. Bionic legs made by Dr Herr don't just look better, but also communicate with our brain through the nervous system, just like a natural leg. Artificial intelligence (AI) used in these artificial organs is not just helping overcome the difference between disability and ability, but also making them better than a normal human being in some cases. This technology can be used in future to make exoskeletons that can help normal humans in doing tasks which are beyond the capability of normal human muscles. This technology is certainly superhuman and need special attention for betterment of mankind.

AI Radiologist

Researchers from Google Health and Imperial College London designed and trained a computer to detect breast cancer from x-ray images. The AI computer model finally prepared was found to be far better than two experienced human radiologists working together. When its results were compared with human radiologist's results, it showed reduction of 1.2% in false positives (where human radiologists diagnosed cancer mistakenly) and reduction of 2.7% in false negatives (where human radiologists diagnosed nothing, while it was cancer positive). An AI computer radiologist can work tirelessly. A human takes oven a decade of training as a doctor and specialist to be radiologist. Most of the countries are facing shortage of radiologists which is delaying cancer diagnosis and endangering lives of people. Putting AI technology to this use can help medical sector to great extent.

Bioelectronic Implants

Most of us know that our body works through electricity that passes signals from brain to different parts of body through nervous system. This particular science that deal with electronics inside human body is known as bioelectronics. Damage of  nerves result in some specific diseases, due to lack of electric signals. As researches are progressing we have found the specific nerves and the organs that they are stimulating. This system is more complex then just moving some muscles or body parts. For example : Pacemaker sends electronic signals to sinus node in your heart, which contracts your heart to pump blood. The very first pacemaker was implanted in 1958, but today this science has developed a lot. Now there are silicon-based sensors that once implanted can dissolve after use which reduces the need of invasive procedures to get them out. These implants can monitor temperature, sense the pressure/ strain, track the healing of tendons in realtime and map electrical activity in brain. Researchers have made ingestible electronic capsule which can be swallowed and then it transmits pH levels, pressure levels, temperature and different gases level in different parts of the gut. It is capable of detecting gastrointestinal bleedings. Before such devices come for general public usage, data privacy and security are a major concern.

Robotic Surgery

All of us are familiar with laparoscopy surgery where a camera is inserted in abdominal region to perform minimum invasive surgery.
  • During year 2000, da Vinci Surgical System was approved by FDA which put robotic surgery to next level, in which a trained surgeon operates using the robotic hands while sitting on a console where he/she can monitor the site in 3D. Usage of robotic arms enhances precision, flexibility and control and often performs minimally invasive surgery.
  • CorPath System Robot can perform remote surgery and depends on a high speed wi-fi connection. Recently in India, a stent was planted inside the patient by a surgeon sitting 20 miles away within 15 minutes.
  • Monarch Platform has made surgical robots that can be used for several surgical procedures without making any incision. This robot uses natural openings in human body to send the camera and other tools inside the body. The primary target of manufactures of this robot is lung cancer.
  • Mako Rio is a robot specially made for knee surgeries. It prepares 3D models of patients knee using the scans before, and surgeon can plan the whole procedure and even the alternatives in advance.
Looking at the technological advancement that day is not far when surgeon sitting in one country will operate in other using the robotic hands, with precision more than his own hands.
Looking at all these technologies, it is fairly understood that medical science is no longer a study of just human body, but now it includes engineering of all streams to prepare gadgets helpful in medical intervention.

Reference:

  • https://www.ted.com/talks/hugh_herr_the_new_bionics_that_let_us_run_climb_and_dance/transcript?language=en#t-90720
  • https://www.bbc.com/news/health-50857759
  • https://www.nature.com/articles/s41928-018-0113-1

What makes us forget ? Brain Science

Everybody want to have a good memory and we often try to find out how much we can store in our brain memory. Nobody want to forget anything, but our brain is not a hard-disk (as most of the people think about it). Brain is a biologically evolved very advanced supercomputer that remembers a lot of things, but also keeps forgetting somethings, which are considered useless by it. Sometimes we feel that our memory is not performing well only when our brain considers some important things as useless, while those things were actually important. It does not mean that there is some problem with your brain, almost everybody tend to forget where he/she left the keys.

What makes us forget ?

Forgetting is an equally important part of our life, just like remembering. Our sleep plays an important role in our brain functioning. Especially the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep, when we see dreams and nightmares, is the time when this erasing of unnecessary memory happens. During a good night sleep we enter REM phase of 10-20 minutes around 6 to 8 times. During all those REM phases we see a number of dreams, but we rarely remember even one of them. It is because during that REM sleep our brain keep erasing the memories of those unnecessary dreams / nightmares, so that they don't interfere with real life memory. While erasing those dream memories, our brain also erases some real life memories that are considered useless or unnecessary by it.

In depth about erasing memory

Our dreams are actually screensavers that are played to entertain us while real task of erasing memory is being done. During REM Sleep, hypothalamus releases MCH (Melanin concentrating hormone). Previously researchers thought that MCH helps in building memory but now they have found that during REM sleep MCH erases the dream's memory and also the short term memory that is considered not-important. What makes it categorize the information as important and not-important is also being researched.
Most of us think that neurons store memory, but its not true. Memory storage occurs in the connections between neurons, known as synapses. Each neuron have thousands of synaptic connections with other neurons. During daytime several synapses are created to store new memories, while during REM sleep MCH erases/destroys the unnecessary synapses. One more event occurs during REM sleep, which changes important short-term memory into long-term memory. Some researches suggest that those synapses grew stronger which were accessed again and again, while those remain weak which are never accessed after creation. MCH probably destroys/erases the weaker synapses.
Now if your teacher asks you to revise the lesson, then understand the fact that accessing the same content stored in your memory makes the synapses stronger and don't let your REM sleep erase that important topic that will be asked in exams.
Same thing happens with us when we leave the keys in our jeans pocket, and next morning we shuffle the whole house searching for them. Actually leaving the keys in your pocket usually happens due to a reflex action, but you don't access that memory again and go to sleep, which erases that never accessed memory.

Sleeping is not just a resting process that eases or our muscles, but it is a maintenance phase of our brain. If you don't sleep for days then your brain chemical start to act weird that affects your mental balance and memory. Mankind is discovering the whole universe without even knowing how our brains are storing/retrieving that information and erasing the useless information without even asking us. There is still a lot more to know about our brain to better understand ourselves.

What causes Headache ? Reasons Explained

Everybody experiences headache multiple times in a lifetime, sometimes mild and sometimes severe. But what exactly causes headache ? Is it some indication of some over-activity in brain, some problem with brain/body, or a way to distract us from something ? Our body is a puzzle and nobody has completely understood it yet. But here we will try to bring some facts about headache that are discovered by researchers till now.

Classification of Headaches

Primary Headache: These headache are caused by over-activity or problem with brain structure such as blood vessels, muscles and nerves of head and neck. Its examples are migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.
Secondary Headache: These headache are caused by some other underlying medical condition in our body. For example :  hangover, influenza, dehydration, ice-cream headaches, brain tumor, stroke etc. Any pain in our body indicates some problem in that particular body part, except secondary headache. Secondary headache is not usually generated due to some problem in head, but may be due to problem in some other part. Treating that medical condition cures our headache as well. 

Understanding Primary Headache

There are three types of primary Headache :
  • Migraine Headache
  • Tension Headache
  • Cluster headache
Reason behind migraine headache is not completely understood, however it affects more than 12% of the population and women are 4 times more prone to it. There are different types of migraine depending on the severity of symptoms, which are discussed in other article. Read More about Migraine.

Cluster headaches are very rare and affect just 0.1% of population. Men in their late 20s are usually affected by it, but women and children can also get affected by it. Those affected by cluster headache often wake up at the same time every night due to headache on same side of head or over the eyebrow.

Tension Headache is the most common primary headache that is faced by more than 90% of population in their lifetime. The real reason is unknown behind this pain, but most of the medical practitioners agree on the fact that physical or emotions stress makes our skull muscles to contract, which cause pain sensation in head. Women are more prone to tension headaches. Tension headache usually feels like a tight band around your head and it is usually mild and steady. It usually occurs without any pattern.

Here we will discuss tension headache in detail, as it is the most occurring headache among humans.

Common reasons behind tension headache

Muscle tension or contraction in face, temple, neck or shoulder is generally the primary reason behind tension headache, but what causes such muscle tension is probably the accurate reason behind tension headache. 

  • Holding your head in same position for too long : It often occurs when you are sitting in front of a screen while typing, reading or watching something.
  • Sleeping with neck in a wrong position : It can also trigger headache along with muscle strain on your shoulder or neck.
  • Stress or Depression: Mental Stress or depression can cause skeletal muscle contractions that can cause headache.
  • Head injury can also cause muscle tension or contraction in the skull region.
  • Jaw clenching or teeth grinding also puts your face muscles under stress.
  • Eye Strain is directly connected to our facial muscles. Those jobs that need high level of visual concentration can cause headache. Some times headache is also a signal of eyesight problems.

Treating Tension Headache

Massaging the scalp is the best way to treat tension headache, but it the intensity of pain is not getting controlled then you may use some over-the-counter pain killer. If headache occurs more than 15 days in a month then you should consult a medical practitioner or take a look at your lifestyle to check if you are actually putting yourself under too much stress.
If you feel that you are getting headache more than 15 days in a month, then its better to keep a record of them and the medication used by you, which may help your doctor in diagnosing your condition.  

Migraine: Just Headache or Something else

Migraine is often known for frequent headache, but it is a neurological disorder which causes headache and dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. Autonomic activities like digestion and breathing also get disturbed due to recurrent attacks of migraine.

In the beginning most of the migraine sufferers wrongly assume that they can deal with their headache on their own and use over-the counter drugs, which is generally overused. Most of the sufferers keep denying themselves and think that its just a headache which will go away on its own, and thus they wait too long to initiate the correct treatment and make it worst. During the migraine pain our brain amplifies the pain signals and other sensory stimulus. It creates  body-wide effects. For example the sound and light signals are amplified, and the sufferer find hard to tolerate smells, noise, light or even touch.
Women are three times more prone to migraine and your genes play an important role as a risk factor for migraine.
People often take leave from work due to migraine pain , but condition become more unproductive when a person with migraine pain comes to work and can't concentrate or work properly. In a survey Japanese Headache Society found that productivity of one in every five employee is decreased due to migraine, which costs Fujitsu, an IT company, $350 million per year.

Stages of Migraine

Migraine often starts in early childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. There are four stages of migraine, but not everyone goes through all of them. These stages are prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome.
  • Prodrome: This stage occurs two day before actual migraine and often not realized as symptom of migraine. The symptoms of this stage are mood changes (or depression), food cravings, neck stiffness, constipation, increased thirst/urination and frequent yawning.
  • Aura: It occurs only in some migraine patients where some reversible symptoms occur for 20 to 60 minutes that are related to our nervous system. Some of such symptoms are pins/needles sensation in arms/legs, numbness in face or one side of body, difficulty in speaking, hearing amplified noise, bright flashes of light, vision loss, uncontrollable jerking and hallucinations.
  • Attack: Migraine Attack can occur rarely or even a few time per month and can't be predicted. Duration of this attack can last from 4 to 72 hour if remains untreated. Symptoms of migraine attack are pain on one side of head (both sides in some cases), pain that pulses, sensitivity to light, sound, smell and touch and feeling of vomiting.
  • Post-drome: It is the post attack stage which may last up to 24 hours, during which you feel drained and confused. Sudden head movement can trigger pain for few minutes. 

Causes of Migraine

Causes of Migraine are not fully understood but researchers believe that genetics and environmental factors play an important role in it. Some recently understood causes of migraine which are being researched more are listed here.
  • Some researchers believe that when major changes occur in our pain pathway which includes brainstem and trigeminal nerve interaction, then it triggers migraine.
  • Some believe that imbalances in brain chemicals, such as serotonin, that regulate pain in our nervous system, is responsible for migraine pain.
  • Neurotransmitters, including calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) may also be responsible for migraine.
  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a hole in the heart which is present in more than 20% population. These people are four times more prone to migraine. Researches are being conducted to know if closure of this hole can help in getting rid of migraine.

Triggers of Migraine

  • Hormonal Medication, such as oral contraceptives, can make migraine worse. However in some cases reverse happens, where frequency of migraine attacks decrease are using such medication. 
  • Hormonal changes in women during pregnancy, menopause and periods can trigger headaches.
  • Sensory stimulus such as bright lights, loud noise and strong smell can trigger migraine.
  • Too much caffeine, alcohol or wine.
  • Stress at work or home
  • Physical exertion
  • Lack of sleep, jet lag or too much sleep
  • Change of weather or barometric pressure
  • Skipping meals, fasting or eating processed foods

Migraine in USA

  • 47 million people in US are suffering from migraine.
  • Out of them 6 million are chronic migraine patients, which means more than 15 headaches per month.
  • Direct medical expenses on migraine medication amounts to $11 billion per year.
  • Other indirect costs and disability expenses also cost around $11 billion per year.

Medication of Migraine

According to an estimate 40% of migraine patients should be on preventive medicine while just 13% get it. 4 oral drugs are approved by FDA, two anti-seizure drugs and two beta-blockers. Patients of chronic migraine can get injections of Botox.

Note : If you have frequent headaches then you should keep a record of its duration and medication used to get it analysed by a medical practitioner. 

Heart Attack among Healthy Young Adults Explained

Hypertension and Cardiovascular diseases are usually considered as old age disease, but now a days some cases of severe hear diseases are reported among people in their 20s or 30s. Usually people find it hard to believe that heart problems can occur among these age groups even with good BMI. Sometime just good weight and workout routine is not enough, if their are some loopholes in your lifestyle. Reading this article will definitely improve your knowledge and will make you understand how your body works. 

Lets begin with some common issues that are often ignored but can lead to heart problems.

Loud snoring : Loud snoring is a major symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Snoring happens when your throat relaxes and blocks your airway. As soon as your brain feels lack of breathing it signals your throat muscles to contract and make way for air. It can happen from tens to hundred of times in a single night, which disturbs your sleep and each such instance releases stress hormones. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure several times during a single night and increases the chances of developing heart diseases.

Lack of Sleep : Either its due to insomnia or any other reason, it triggers your body's stress response and puts excess workload on your heart. If lack of sleep is a regular pattern of your lifestyle then in long run it can easily make you a heart patient.
According to some researches now people are sleeping 6.8 hr per night which is 1.5 hr less than a century ago, which may be a major reason behind increased cardiovascular diseases.
Disturbed Sleep : Anti-inflammatory mechanism of our body is regulated by our sleep. Disturbed sleep or poor quality sleep disrupts this mechanism. Researchers have found that disturbed sleep lowers the amount of  hypocretin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake states, and increases the amount of white blood cells in circulation. Loss of hypocretin makes white blood cells collect at the plaque build up inside your arteries, leading to inflammation and atherosclerosis.

Tight Clothes : Tight clothes (especially tight jeans which is popular among youngsters) can lead to disturbance in blood circulation, which may lead to excess workload on your heart. Recently some cases were reported where young healthy adults faced severe heart problems due to tight jeans. To know more you may read another article Your Jeans putting you at health risk.

Calcification : 99% of calcium in our body is in form of bones and teeth, and most of us get calcium through dietary intake to keep our bones healthy. 1% of calcium usually remains in our blood, but in some circumstances it starts to get deposited inside arteries just like cholesterol. The bitter fact is that this calcium blockage is usually so hard that it can't be dissolved or penetrated by stent. There are several cases where calcification occurred in healthy adults and caused conditions like heart attack without any previous history of heart problem. To understand calcification better you must read Calcium deposits in Arteries causing Heart Problems

Bacteria inside arteries : Yes ! human body is home for several good and bad bacteria. Here an important fact is that even a bacteria which is good in one part of body, might be bad in another part. Now researchers have found some bacterial lipids inside our arteries, which are found responsible for building deposition. Our body considers these deposition as foreign material, and our immune response creates inflammation, thus making the blockage worse. Read More about bacteria blocking your arteries.

Stress : You must have seen scenes in movies where a bad news caused heart attack, but did you ever think how it happens. One possible explanation is that our body works through electrical impulses that are carried by nerves, and some sudden stress disrupts that electrical impulse function and heart attack happens. But another explanation found by researchers is that some bacteria residing inside our arteries and some plaque deposition in different arteries are responsible for that. When we are in deep stress, certain chemical changes occur in our blood, which makes these bacteria release some lipids. This lipid ruptures the non-fatal plaque in different arteries and later if that plaque reaches heart and get stuck there then it causes heart attack.

Dehydration : Last but not the least is Water. Lack of water in your body decreases the blood volume, which makes it thicker and decreases the blood pressure. To compensate it, our body constricts the blood vessels and our pulse rate increases. If you are habitual of drinking less water, then your are putting yourself at risk of CHD (coronary heart disease).

Everybody that looks healthy from outside might not be so, if he/she is following a bad lifestyle. So upgrade your lifestyle with good diet, good workout, better sleep, better hydration, better clothes and lower stress level to keep your heart healthy. Your heart works non-stop for your whole life, so its your responsibility to understand its needs. Stay healthy !

Reference:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2845795/
  • https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/155/9/827/58224

Your Jeans putting you at Health Risk

Jeans are quiet popular among all age groups due to their good looks and low maintenance. Some of the brands even claim that you will save water by wearing their jeans. But here we are more concerned about your health rather than looks or saving water. Wearing jeans has increased the occurrence of some diseases among both genders.

Warning : Reading this article further might change your views about wearing jeans.

Lets begin with some incidents of severe medical conditions where doctors believe that tight jeans were the main culprit.

A 30-year-old man of Delhi was found unconscious on his office stairs with no-BP and a pulse rate of just 10-12 per minute. He survived after 5 crucial days in hospital. As the doctors researched more, they found that this guy drove a car on last weekend for more than 250 km without any break while wearing a tight jeans, which resulted in some strain and uneasiness in his leg. After complete analysis doctors told that a clot formed in his leg arteries due to improper blood flow during his driving spree, and later that clot traveled up to his heart and caused massive pulmonary embolism, which could have resulted in death. Even after he revived in hospital, his vital organs like kidney were not working as they stopped working due to very low BP.

Lesson : Never wear a tight jeans while driving and always take some breaks on long run, as it is important for your leg's blood circulation.

In another incident a lady started feeling some pins and needles sensation in her calf , but she became concerned about it where this sensation increased and started to hinder her movement. Initially doctors diagnosed it as sciatica, but as some questions were asked it was revealed that she was wearing her old tight jeans even after gaining some weight. She even told that she chopped the knees of her skinny jeans with a cheese grater, just to keep wearing them.

Lesson : Now you know that sciatica symptoms are possible due to tight fitting trousers or jeans, if they are hindering your blood flow or muscle movement.

According to an incident published in Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, a 35-year-old woman's calves ballooned in size as she was squatting for hours to empty the cupboards for a house move. She was rushed to hospital as she was unable to walk and her feet were numb. Doctors diagnosed that condition as compartment syndrome which was caused by bleeding and swelling within muscles. She reached this state because she was wearing a tight pair of jeans while doing this intense workout, which made her calf muscles to swell inwards rather than outwards.

Lesson : Never workout while wearing a tight pair of jeans or trousers.

Some of you might think that the cases discussed here were the extreme circumstances, but there are some more day-to-day facts about wearing tight jeans for both men and women.
  • Wearing tight jeans or underwear can result in low sperm count, as it make it too out there and don't allow the sperms to mature. Read More
  • Tightness of clothes near the testicles can also result in twisted testicles, which is a severe medical condition. If it remains untreated then it might result in death of testicle and its surrounding tissues.
  • If your jeans or pants are too tight then it may result in skin friction and excess moisture down there, which gives perfect environment for fungus and bacteria to grow. Conditions like jock itch, yeast infection or UTI can occur due to it.
  • Women wearing skinny jeans or pants are twice more prone to vulvodynia, a pain disorder of vulva, often experience as stinging, burning, or itching sensation. 
  • Risk of Bacterial vaginitis, a vaginal infection among women aged 15 to 44 years, can increase up to 2 times by wearing tight jeans just once a week.

We are not asking you to ditch your jeans altogether, just follow some tips.
  • Don't prefer it too tight. There is a simple test to check if your jeans are too tight. When you take off your jeans at night, if you can easily check if there are marks imprinted on your skin. It it imprints its design on your skin then its too tight.
  • If you are wearing some skinny jeans then avoid staying in same position for too long, just to keep the blood flowing in your legs.  
Reference:
  • https://journals.lww.com/jlgtd/Citation/2019/07000/Exploring_Hygienic_Behaviors_and_Vulvodynia.8.aspx
  • https://www.ejog.org/article/S0301-2115(04)00285-4/fulltext
  • https://www.bbc.com/news/health-33223045
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/33245474/my-skinny-jeans-caused-me-nerve-pain
  • https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33238110

Human Brain memory capacity in Gigabytes (GB)

When it comes to measuring memory capacity of human brain, we tend to think in terms of digital memory. The most popular term to measure memory is GB (Gigabyte), which is comparatively very less when it comes to measuring memory capacity of brain. A number of researches have tried to measure this capacity and have given various estimates which differ a lot from each other. Usually researches say that our brain can store petabytes of data.

There are different estimates about size of human brain when in comes to counting neurons. Some researchers say that only 10% of or brain are neurons, rest are the cells protecting them or the connections between neurons. One neuron can make around 1000 connections (known as synapses) with other neurons, which generates a complex net of neurons and synapses. Each of these connections can also store a memory.
According to present estimates each synapse can store 4.7 bits of information. Cerebral cortex alone has 125 trillion synapses.
According to scientificamerican.com our brain can store upto 2.5 petabyte (i.e around 2621440 GB). This might seem lesser to some people but this much storage can store up to 300 years of continuous video.

Some Neuroscientists believe that this estimate might be too low or too high, because while doing this simple math we assume that each synapse can hold 1 byte of information. This assumption of 1 byte equals 1 synapse might not be correct. Apart from that all synapses are not used for storage purpose, as some are also used for processing that memory.

One more interesting fact is that, no matter how much the age is, a human never feels out of space to save newer memories. Some researchers feel that it is because our storage capacity is more than required, while some feel that it is because our brain keep erasing those memories which are not of much importance.

Our brain is not just a Hardisk

When we talk about brain and memory, most of us think as if it is a digital pen-drive or a hardisk, while it is not so. Our brain does not learn a thing completely unless that thing is paid attention to or if we don't revise it. You can't learn names of 100 people in a single day, but you may learn it in a few days/weeks if they are your co-workers in your office. A computer can do this thing in a few minutes if it is programmed to do so by a human. Here you might think that your brain is less smart than a computer, but wait a second ! Do you know how much time a computer will take to search for name of a person by matching its face in a 2.5 petabyte hardisk. Probably it might take days, but your brain can instantly tell you if he/she is someone familiar or not, even if you have met that person years ago, you will remember the name if you had met that person a few times. Our brain is a biologically evolved storage and processing device which is way smarter than we think.

Our Consciousness and Memory are outside !

There are some people who think that human consciousness is not something inside our brain. According to them our brain is just a communicating device. We know that we can communicate with other people through talking, but we can also read their expressions, their body language, or their behavior. We are not connected through wires but we communicate better than any wired medium. When it comes to computers we know that they communicate through cables, wifi, bluetooth or other radio frequencies, but we don't know how our brain communicates with our own consciousness. If this theory is true, then our brain is just a processing and communicating device which is always connected to some outer consciousness (like cloud computing), from where you can access unlimited amount of data. At present not much people believe in this theory but who knows what we may come to know in future.