Processing Power of the Brain

The human brain fires between 0.1 and 2 times per second. There are about 100 billion brain cells. If we were to compare the brain cell with a computer chip, it would have a speed of up to 200 billion hertz, or two hundred Gigahertz.

A typical desktop computer can have several processing chips, each with a speed of 3 Gigahertz or so. On this basis we can think of the processing power of the brain as equivalent to about  

\[200 billion/3 billion \simeq 70\]
  computer CPU chips.

The comparison here is very basic. The human brain also stores information and reprocesses it in many different ways as part of the learning

process. We have different sorts of memory - short, medium, and long term. Much brain capacity is used for sensory purposes - sight, sound and touch. There are probably very efficient methods for compressing this information. Some people can remember all of the thousand of faces they have ever seen, and put names and places to them. Some musicians can put names to many pieces of music - that is the soloist playing it, picking them out from all the other soloists how have ever played it, and do this for ever so many pieces and ever so many soloists.

There is a sort of prioritising and sorting of information that underlies the way the brain works which a comparison of processing power does not take account of and which computers are a long way from approaching.