John Griffith has calculated that the lifetime capacity of the average human memory is approximately 1011 (100 trillion) bits of information. John von Neumann has indicated that he believes the human brain has a memory capacity of 2.8 times 1020 (280 quintillion) bits.17
Any state of intelligence or consciousness would appear to be very much dependent upon the status of the brain and its ability to function and retrieve stored information. Brain damage from any cause can lead to loss of memory, difficulties in vision, hearing, speech, reading, writing and other components of our everyday conscious experience. Malfunctions of the brain can also result in illusions and hallucinations. Conscious experience is so dependent upon the brain that it can be altered by the use of many drugs. Our perception of reality at any given instant in time is affected by a very large number of physical factors that constantly perturb our brain and alter our ability to retrieve stored information.
Consciousness appears to be very dependent upon memory. Patients with Korsakoff's disease are unable to form new memories and are very limited in their ability to call up remote memories. They also appear to live in a world where their level of consciousness is drastically reduced. Accessibility to stored memories would appear to be a prerequisite to conscious experience.18
There is also a rare, post-encephalitis syndrome that illustrates the importance of brain function and memory relative to the experiencing of consciousness. One musician who was afflicted with this disorder lost his ability to perceive time as a continuum. Although he continued to experience normal self-awareness, his memory for any events occurring in his life was restricted to approximately the last 2 minutes of any awakened period. He continuously lived only in the present so that his consciousness was reduced to moments. Every time he would see his wife, which would be several times each day, he would joyously greet her as if he hadn't seen her in years. He still had all of the emotions and passions of a normal person, remained perfectly lucid and continued as highly intelligent. Nevertheless, he had lost all previous conscious recollection of his past life, even though he could still continue to perform as a musician. He had no past to remember nor any future to anticipate.19
E.R. John has attempted to define consciousness as "a process in which information about multiple individual modalities of sensation and perception is combined into a unified multi- dimensional representation of the state of the system and its environment, and integrated with information about memories and the needs of the organism, generating emotional reactions and programs of behavior to adjust the organism to its environment.".20
One of the most important principles of nature which is becoming increasingly understood is that everything in existence is interrelated in many ways, and what humanity has continuously been doing is to gradually define and understand those ways. The more relevant information that we store away in our mind-brains, the more accurately we are able to define our existence. We are gradually gaining greater and greater amounts of understanding about everything that we perceive to be present within the universe. The greater our understanding, which we are continually increasing through a positive effort, the more expanded our consciousness becomes.
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