Why the brain is not like a computer
For readers wishing to understand why the human brain is not like a computer, I would highly recommend a 2007 blog article entitled, 10 Important Differences Between Brains and Computers, by Chris Chatham, a 2nd year Grad student pursuing a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder, over on his science blog, Developing Intelligence. Let me say at the outset that Chatham is a materialist who believes that the human mind supervenes upon the human brain. Nevertheless, he regards the brain-computer metaphor as being of very limited value, insofar as it obscures the many ways in which the human brain exceeds a computer in flexibility, parallel processing and raw computational power, not to mention the fact that the human brain is part of a living human body.
Anyway, here is a short, non-technical summary of the ten differences between brains and computers which are discussed by Chatham:1. Brains are analogue; computers are digital.
2. The brain uses content-addressable memory.
3. The brain is a massively parallel machine; computers are modular and serial.
4. Processing speed is not fixed in the brain; there is no system clock.
5. Short-term memory is not like RAM.
6. No hardware/software distinction can be made with respect to the brain or mind.
7. Synapses are far more complex than electrical logic gates.
8. Unlike computers, processing and memory are performed by the same components in the brain.
9. The brain is a self-organizing system.
10. Brains have bodies.
As a bonus, Chatham adds an eleventh difference between brains and computers:
11. The brain is much, much bigger than any [current] computer.