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A Speed of the brain/ Speed of thought: How to determine them?

  1. Jul 1, 2018 #1
    I was playing a game of running (Need for Speed Underground) and was the second time that I thought how to determine the speed of the brain or the speed of the thought. I was running to more 200 km/h (you guys use mph, I'm from a country that uses km/h). And I crashing a lot with more 200 km/h. The best way to determine the speed of a brain would be if the wheels of the game had a sensitivity? And I was doing a mental exercise. Running from my neighborhood until the most next neighborhood. the distance from my house until the next square is 0.25 km converting to meters, is 250 m. Me in my thought I arrived there in 3 seconds remembering whole the traject. So V = Deltas/Deltat gives 83,33 m/s, converting to km/h is 300 and converting km/h by mph is 186,41.

    Am I right?
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2018 #2


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    "speed of thought" isn't a well defined concept, so you would need to define it clearly to evaluate it....and what you said does not make much sense to me.
  4. Jul 1, 2018 #3


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    Here is a link to an article describing the speed that neuron can carry information:

    I cannot tell how you are attempting to measure this. Or what exactly you are measuring.
  5. Jul 1, 2018 #4
    I was trying to measure the human brain speed, but I think it's not precisely my calculation.
  6. Jul 1, 2018 #5
    Hi José, here is another mental exercise:

    What has the physical distance between your neighborhoods to do with the "speed of your thoughts"? Is there any physical connection between the two?

    I can also put it in another way:

    I can imagine myself being on Mars practically instantly, if I let's say look at a photo from Mars:


    What has the distance to Mars got to do with the "speed of my thoughts"?
  7. Jul 1, 2018 #6


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    There are at least two aspects to the "speed" of a brain or computer. The time it will take to respond to a stimulus will depend on the time taken for the information to get there and then there is the 'speed' (i.e. 1/time taken) to do a calculation and to get some sense out of the information. Parallel processing can reduce the calculation time with no limit but that's only half the story if ( as the above picture) the problem is posed a long way away from the processor.
    The question needs to be specified much more tightly.
  8. Jul 1, 2018 #7


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    The action potential is what carries the signals down a neuron. When I do a google search of its speed, there are results that state it to be from 1 m/s to over 100 m/s.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
  9. Jul 1, 2018 #8
    I imagine the whole track. You only thought the place, not the track to Mars, that's what talking about.
  10. Jul 1, 2018 #9
    Hi Sophie!
    How can I specify?
  11. Jul 1, 2018 #10
  12. Jul 1, 2018 #11
    I can imagine travelling to Mars in 3 seconds through a fictional wormhole. What has my imagination got to do with the actual physical distance to Mars?
  13. Jul 1, 2018 #12
    Your reaction time may improve with practice unto reflex. Does some of the necessary processing take place in the base of the brain ? Or just by-passes conscious recognition, evaluation, decision, reaction ?? And then there's personal variation. One of my colleagues could reliably click a stopwatch about 30% quicker than our average. He could also ace the 'dropped ruler' test, too...
  14. Jul 1, 2018 #13


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    OK. You are interested in how fast a person can imagine the process of travel.

    I have experienced such a limitation. One tip off I have that I am dreaming (lucid dreaming) is the limitation that my brain has in creating details that, in actual life, are available as quickly as you can look for them. So if I see a table with stuff on it, then look for what that "stuff" is, the dream will not be able to fill in the details as quickly as I would expect - by a very wide margin.

    As far as traveling in a dream is concerned, if I want to get anywhere, I need to image being there, not traveling there.

    Is this the kind of thing you are talking about?
  15. Jul 2, 2018 #14


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    Benchmarking a computer's performance is pretty hard because there are so many aspects to it. A global number may be unfavourable for one computer and over flattering to another; it will just depend on the particular application. A brain is even harder to quantify.
    So, I think you need to think about what aspect you actually want to know. That will be near impossible so perhaps you just need to read around and get a flavour of the situation, rather than expecting a 'number'.
  16. Jul 2, 2018 #15


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    That largely matches my understanding of the question being asked.

    One measure is that the maximum speed at which someone can successfully drive is a rate which gives the brain time to become aware of the environment and act before the travel speed has rendered the action irrelevant. i.e. it is a function of visibility, analysis and reaction time. [Pipelining is not possible]

    A passenger may be interested in maximum speed at which he can become aware of a scene before it is carried out of view. i.e. it is a function of visibility and analysis time. [This allows for the possibility of pipelining]
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
  17. Jul 2, 2018 #16


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    Our brains are quite good at talking / thinking comparatively. It is easy to think of times to travel to a nearby town and not too much of a stretch to consider light years when discussing astronomical distances. You look at the Andromeda Galaxy on a clear night (not too hard to see with the naked eye) and the fact that the light from Andromeda took 2.5million years to get here is just about acceptable. But that's only because we are good at ratios as a result of our Maths.
  18. Jul 5, 2018 #17
    I appreciate a lot your answers.
    Thank you all, folks!
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