Robot Dreams

Dmitri Katchalov dmitrik at
Tue Sep 12 18:58:57 EST 2000

In article <8pm58i$buf$1 at>,
  "Sid Chaudhury" <direwolfc at> wrote:

> > Everything that we "pay attention to" will get recorded into our
> > memory. This has been well demonstrated by various
> > neuropsychological experiments.

The question is how much of it stays and for how long.

>     I don't think that this recall test proves anything other
> than the fact that our brain stores a lot of memory, which you
> stated.  But this hardly supports a hypothesis that the brain
> uses the sleep period to 'clear out' useless information.  Do
> we subconsciously sort out what is useful and what is not?

It does not clear anything out. What it does however it compresses
the information received during the day and moves it into permanent
storage. To put it simply, it matches individual bits and pieces of
new information with those already stored in memory, factors out
commonalities, removes duplicates and adjusts links as necessary.
This compression is very efficient but it is not entirely loseless.
It's just that compression losses are so subtle and we are so
accustomed to them that we cannot readily point them out.
This compression is also very time- and resource-intensive process
which apparently cannot be done in parallel with other activities.

> The brain has an almost limitless capacity of storage, especially
> compared to computers.  I don't think the brain can be 'full' as
> you put it, and i don't think that we at a subconscious level sift
> through the gargantuan amount of information and sort what
> is 'needed' and what can be thrown out.

Well, the brain can definitely run out of resources and force
itself into sleep mode if kept awake for too long.

While brain and computers operate on different scale they are both
information processing systems and have to obey the same laws.
For example speed vs. memory tradeoff seem to apply.


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