Blog Archives

Computers and brains get closer together: Brain-like computing components

The brain is like a computer; this is the fundamental metaphor at the heart of 1980s cognitive psychology. To an extent this was a useful way of thinking about the brain, it certainly stores and processes information just like a computer, and you can even (perhaps) draw some rough parallels between parts of the brain and computer components.

However, in at least one important respect, the brain appears to function very differently from a computer. A computers’ processing power is highly centralised in a single processor (or perhaps a dual/quad core processor – doesn’t matter – still centralised). The processor does all the computational work, and the hard disk stores all the data that the processor works on. This means that data is constantly being shuttled back and forth from the hard disk to the processor (using the RAM as an intermediary, to avoid the hard disk spinning up and down all the time) and this transfer of data is slow, inefficient and creates a bottleneck which restricts the maximum speed at which computers can run. Read the rest of this entry

E-textbooks – a tiny update.

The future - you can touch it.

I blogged the other day about e-textbooks and how they might change the way we study and consume information, and have just come across this page on the Nature site (via the never-less-than-excellent GrrlScientist). It’s an online biology textbook, published by Nature, full of beautiful illustrations, you can read it anywhere you have web-access, on any device, and it’s constantly updated, so it never goes out of date. The future – it’s here!