Press "Enter" to skip to content

neuronal connections

Says Gerald Edelman:

If we considered the number of possible neural circuits [in the human brain] we would be dealing with hyper-astronomical numbers: 10 followed by at least a million zeros. (There are 10 followed by 79 zeros, give or take a few, of particles in the known universe).

So there are roughly 12,500[10 followed by (1 million-79) zeros] times more neural circuits in a human brain than there are particles in the universe.

In a sense, books increase those neural circuits because one brain gets exposed to the neural connections in another brain. A library multiplies these connections again, and the web adds orders of magnitude more to the connections.

So: what happens next? I mean, what really happens? We’re just at the edge now.


  1. Coach Coach 2008-03-03

    “So there are roughly 12,500 times more neural circuits in a human brain than there are particles in the universe.”

    What a preposterous assertion. Where in the world does this wild-ass number come from??

  2. Hugh Hugh 2008-03-03

    @coach: it’s bad math following from the edelman statement above. if edelman is correct, the number of potential neural connections is much, much, much bigger in relation to particles than what I stated.

    potential neural connections/particles in the universe =

    10 followed by 1 million zeros
    divided by
    10 followed by 79 zeros
    10 followed by (1 million-79) zeros

    note that, even according to edelman’s calcs, the number of potential neural connections probably does not outstrip the number of connections between particles in the universe (but i haven’t done the math).

    If you’d like to check out edelman’s work, the quote above appears in:

    GM Edelman and G Tononi. 2000. A universe of consciousness: How matter becomes imagination. New York: Basic Books.

  3. Coach Coach 2008-03-03

    Chris and Hugh,

    Appreciate the links and I understand the theoretical math. There’s just something intuitively wrong here (and it may just be my “feeble” brain and its anthropomorphic bias). I need to dissect it a bit further. No argument that we have tremendous potential, but the scale suggested is bordering on bizarre. Anyway, thanks much for causing me to pause…for the cause

Comments are closed.