By George F. Chadwick
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Additional info for A Systems View of Planning. Towards a Theory of the Urban and Regional Planning Process
A. Miller (1956) suggests: "The span of absolute judgement and the span of immediate memory impose severe limitations on the amount of information that we are able to receive, process and remember. " 28 A Systems View of Planning Perhaps the best example of this is the "modelling" or schematic ability mentioned, which has the aim of representing a complex situation in a way in which it can be grasped and handled by the mind. An excellent example from the field of mathematics is the development of set theory, which stems from the simple idea of a number of things which have a common property or properties and thus can be represented as elements of a set.
14 27 capacity for information—possibly as large as 10 bits, or rather more than the core store capacity of all the electronic computers in the world at the present time. The number of neurons in the central 10 nervous system is of the order of ΙΟ , and it seems probable that "even the simplest behaviour requires the integrated action of millions of neurons : . . almost every nerve cell in the cerebral cortex may be excited in every activity. . The same neurons which maintain the memory traces and participate in the revival of a memory are also involved, in different combinations, in thousands of other memories and acts" (Lashley, 1951).
Thus the input and output characteristics of human beings are restricted to the order of 100 bits per second, but the actual capacity 9 of the brain is of a very different order—and may be as much as 10 bits per second if all the neurons in the brain are involved in every action. It seems, therefore, that human beings have restricted channel input and output capacity and have lower precision in arithmetic terms because their nervous systems are not digital in operation, but depend on the transmission of periodic trains of pulses simultaneously to many cells.