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How we think: in one paragraph


bascule
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Think of your cerebral cortex as a big pyramidal hierarchy. At the base of the hierarchy are your senses and motor systems. At the top is the brain structure which encodes long term memories, the seahorse-shaped hippocampus. The whole pyramid is built out of structures called neocortical columns, that sit around analyzing patterns, classifying them, grouping them, and feeding their conclusions up the hierarchy, through innumerable other neocortical columns, up toward the hippocampus. The higher you go, the more abstract the information the neocortical columns are dealing with. They're classifying and grouping patterns in ever-increasing levels of abstraction. Information also flows down the hierarchy, so patterns discovered in one part of the system can be relayed to others, in the form of a "Here's what the higher-ups predict, so be on the lookout if things are different." The only information that gets to the top of the hierarchy are things that weren’t caught at any other level. They are stored there, then downwards propagated through the cortex, so the system can know what it doesn’t know and use that to aid future pattern detection activities.

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Think of your cerebral cortex as a big pyramidal hierarchy. At the base of the hierarchy are your senses and motor systems. At the top is the brain structure which encodes long term memories, the seahorse-shaped hippocampus. The whole pyramid is built out of structures called neocortical columns, that sit around analyzing patterns, classifying them, grouping them, and feeding their conclusions up the hierarchy, through innumerable other neocortical columns, up toward the hippocampus. The higher you go, the more abstract the information the neocortical columns are dealing with. They're classifying and grouping patterns in ever-increasing levels of abstraction. Information also flows down the hierarchy, so patterns discovered in one part of the system can be relayed to others, in the form of a "Here's what the higher-ups predict, so be on the lookout if things are different." The only information that gets to the top of the hierarchy are things that weren’t caught at any other level. They are stored there, then downwards propagated through the cortex, so the system can know what it doesn’t know and use that to aid future pattern detection activities.

 

the brain is a pyramid but its a fractal pyramid. it divides into 3 parts (midbrain, cerebellum, and cerebral cortex) each of which divides into 3 parts (input, output, and processor) each of which likewise divides into 3 parts and so on and so on. this probably continues right down to neurons.

 

(in addition, each of the 3 parts is divided into 2 halves)


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the cerebellum is concerned with 'how' to do what we do.

the cerebral cortex is concerned with 'what' to do.

the midbrain is concerned with 'why' we do what we do. (at different 'times' we have different goals)

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the brain is a pyramid but its a fractal pyramid. it divides into 3 parts (midbrain, cerebellum, and cerebral cortex) each of which divides into 3 parts (input, output, and processor) each of which likewise divides into 3 parts and so on and so on. this probably continues right down to neurons.

 

(in addition, each of the 3 parts is divided into 2 halves)


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the cerebellum is concerned with 'how' to do what we do.

the cerebral cortex is concerned with 'what' to do.

the midbrain is concerned with 'why' we do what we do. (at different 'times' we have different goals)

 

What's a fractal pyramid?

 

Edit: Nevermind. I see what you're trying to say. The idea that everything is organized into 3 subdivisions sounds too convenient to me, not the way I've been taught.

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the basic function of the cerebellum is easy to understand. it acts as a kind of helper. it helps you to perform simple repetitive actions. you tell it 'what' to do and it figures out 'how' to do it (but it has to be very simple). (like a child) it doesnt know 'what' it is doing. it is sometimes called the hindbrain.

 

the midbrain is like that but it works with input. when I first thought of that it seemed impossible. how can your midbrain see for you. well it cant. but it can be on the lookout and raise alarms whenever you need to see something.

 

through these alarms the midbrain is able to exert tremendous control over ourselves. so much so that in one way of looking at it the midbrain not the forebrain (cerebral cortex) is in control. ('why' is higher than 'what' which is higher than 'how'. think of the hypothalamus).

 

these 3 levels (hindbrain, forebrain, and midbrain) are similar to the usual 'child, adult, and parent' that one hears about so often.

 

 

fuzzy logic is the most basic type of thinking. (except possibly for some kind of crude 'pattern recognition' level). fuzzy logic is just like deductive reasoning except that it replaces truth values with expectations. instead of saying 'all men are vain. Aristotle is a man therefore Aristotle is vain' we say 'I expect that all men are vain. I expect that Aristotle is a man therefore I expect that Aristotle is vain'. the degree to which we 'expect' something can be anywhere from zero to one. but even if our expectation is total we can still be wrong.

 

 

 

inductive (or abductive) reasoning is an outgrowth of fuzzy logic. in inductive reasoning we 'suspend our disbelief' of some particular idea for a short time in order to see if doing so results in some new flash of insight. we get a 'feel' for whether that idea 'fits' or not. the result is our subjective 'feelings'. 'feeling' is therefore an outgrowth of 'thinking' (fuzzy logic). the trouble with feelings is that they are highly subjective by which I mean that we tend to see whatever we look for. we might have a 'feerling' that someone is hiding behind the shower curtain even though we know its ridiculous.

 

 

if in subjective thinking we tend to see what we want to see then what would happen if we wanted to see the objective truth? the answer is that that is exactly what we would see and the result is deductive reasoning. deductive reasoning is therefore an outgrowth of our 'feelings' (by removal of all subjective bias).

 

 

I dont know one way or the other whether the hippocampus is at the very top of the pyramid (it might be. I really dont know). I've always heard that studying the hippocampus and its structure is somehow very instructive but I've never been able to make much sense out of it.

 

 

curiousity is associated with fuzzy logic

maternal empathy is associated with 'feelings'

sympathy (love) is associated with deductive reasoning.

 

the last one probably seems rather strange so I'll elaborate. when you sympathize with someone you are seeing things from their perspective. likewise deductive reasoning requires that we see things from the point of view of objective reality (as opposed to our own subjective point of view).


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consciousness can be thought of as what we 'think' of as ourself.

ego can be though of as what we 'feel' is our self.

I'll tentatively call 'essence' that which we 'know' is our self. that is to say the true nature of our true self.

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it is the result of a great many random readings and musings over the last 30 years. some of it is my personal speculation.

 

if you have a specific question then I will try to help you out.

 

No, I wanted references, because much of what you said disagrees with the science I've read during my own 30 years of musings. Oh well... I guess that's too much to ask... being this is a science forum, and all. Do, carry on with your speculations.

 

 

On a related note, unicorn farts cause erections in leprechauns.

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there seems to be something about this subject that attracts trolls. the comments by the OP above seem perfectly valid and reasonable to me (and if true then very interesting) yet not one person responded with anything but ridicule. well so be it.


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You have been here long enough to know that when you are speculating, you need to point it out! You've seen the confusion that not doing so causes first hand.

posting it in psuedoscience and spectulations instead of some other forum IS pointing it out.

 

anyway nothing I've said seems like anything more than common sense to me.

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the cerebellum is easy to understand...

I'm not sure most people would agree with you on this one.

 

For example, if you were to ask a typical neurologist or an expert (i.e. w/ a PhD) on neuroscience for an explanation on how the brain works, would they be able to come up with the same answer you've provided us. If not, then your explanation isn't anything resembling "common sense."

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its textbook stuff.

http://www.newhorizons.org/neuro/leiner.htm

Experimental evidence has shown that the cerebellum is involved in the process by which novel motor tasks can, after some practice, be performed automatically. Through such automation, the performance can be improved: Sequences of movements can be made with greater speed, greater accuracy, and less effort. The cerebellum also is known to be involved in the mental rehearsal of motor tasks, which also can improve performance and make it more skilled.

 

Because the cerebellum is connected to regions of the brain that perform not only motor but also mental and sensory tasks, it can automatize not only motor but also mental and sensory skills in the human brain. As with motor skills, several advantages accrue from learning to perform the other skills automatically, without conscious attention to detail.

 

The skills involved in human communication, for example, require both motor and mental activity: the motor activity of speech or gesture, and the mental activity that formulates what is to be said. In the course of learning these skills, an individual's performance can be improved incrementally through practice so that the skills eventually can be performed without conscious attention to detail. For example, in recalling words stored in the memory, the activity can be performed without conscious attention to the details of how the words are selected by the brain during the retrieval process.

 

To the extent that an individual can perform some mental activities without conscious attention to detail, the conscious part of the brain is freed to attend to other mental activities, thus enlarging its cognitive scope. Such enlargement of human capabilities is attributable in no small part to the enlarged human cerebellum and its contribution to the automation of mental activities, which appears to have been a prerequisite for the emergence of human language. Because such language confers a unique and inestimable advantage on humans, the cerebellum can be regarded as an underestimated treasure submerged at the bottom of the brain.


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I'm not sure most people would agree with you on this one.

 

For example, if you were to ask a typical neurologist or an expert (i.e. w/ a PhD) on neuroscience for an explanation on how the brain works, would they be able to come up with the same answer you've provided us. If not, then your explanation isn't anything resembling "common sense."

are you trying to make it sound like i'm just 'showing off' to try to impress people? I am painfully well aware that the experts have forgotten more than I will ever know about it. theres nothing that I've said that the experts dont already know. but the experts are keeping this stuff to themselves. or they dribble it out to the masses in cryptic lawyerese through the ministry of information.

 

I'm simply sharing what little I've been able to piece together over 30 years with others who might find it interesting. obviously that doesnt include you.

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are you trying to make it sound like i'm just 'showing off' to try to impress people? I am painfully well aware that the experts have forgotten more than I will ever know about it. theres nothing that I've said that the experts dont already know. but the experts are keeping this stuff to themselves. or they dribble it out to the masses in cryptic lawyerese through the ministry of information.

 

I'm simply sharing what little I've been able to piece together over 30 years with others who might find it interesting. obviously that doesnt include you.

 

I am going to admit that I'm no expert, but the little I've learned about the nervous system compels me to be at least a bit skeptical about the information presented on this thread. Ideas in here on midbrain function, "fractal pyramids," "why", "what," and "how" organizations, etc... may be speculative at best, but appear to be presented as no less than widely accepted facts, i.e. ideas without controversy. I strongly admire and support anyone who is willing to help others learn what they have learned, but I also believe that speculative ideas should be presented as such. Anyway, I apologize if my post seemed condescending to you or if I had misjudged you on your ideas and assertions since it was not my intention discourage anyone from sharing information.

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Think of your cerebral cortex as a big pyramidal hierarchy. At the base of the hierarchy are your senses and motor systems. At the top is the brain structure which encodes long term memories, the seahorse-shaped hippocampus. The whole pyramid is built out of structures called neocortical columns, that sit around analyzing patterns, classifying them, grouping them, and feeding their conclusions up the hierarchy, through innumerable other neocortical columns, up toward the hippocampus. The higher you go, the more abstract the information the neocortical columns are dealing with. They're classifying and grouping patterns in ever-increasing levels of abstraction. Information also flows down the hierarchy, so patterns discovered in one part of the system can be relayed to others, in the form of a "Here's what the higher-ups predict, so be on the lookout if things are different." The only information that gets to the top of the hierarchy are things that weren’t caught at any other level. They are stored there, then downwards propagated through the cortex, so the system can know what it doesn’t know and use that to aid future pattern detection activities.

 

 

 

the basic function of the cerebellum is easy to understand. it acts as a kind of helper. it helps you to perform simple repetitive actions. you tell it 'what' to do and it figures out 'how' to do it (but it has to be very simple). (like a child) it doesnt know 'what' it is doing. it is sometimes called the hindbrain.

 

the midbrain is like that but it works with input. when I first thought of that it seemed impossible. how can your midbrain see for you. well it cant. but it can be on the lookout and raise alarms whenever you need to see something.

 

through these alarms the midbrain is able to exert tremendous control over ourselves. so much so that in one way of looking at it the midbrain not the forebrain (cerebral cortex) is in control. ('why' is higher than 'what' which is higher than 'how'. think of the hypothalamus).

 

these 3 levels (hindbrain, forebrain, and midbrain) are similar to the usual 'child, adult, and parent' that one hears about so often.

 

 

fuzzy logic is the most basic type of thinking. (except possibly for some kind of crude 'pattern recognition' level). fuzzy logic is just like deductive reasoning except that it replaces truth values with expectations. instead of saying 'all men are vain. Aristotle is a man therefore Aristotle is vain' we say 'I expect that all men are vain. I expect that Aristotle is a man therefore I expect that Aristotle is vain'. the degree to which we 'expect' something can be anywhere from zero to one. but even if our expectation is total we can still be wrong.

 

 

 

inductive (or abductive) reasoning is an outgrowth of fuzzy logic. in inductive reasoning we 'suspend our disbelief' of some particular idea for a short time in order to see if doing so results in some new flash of insight. we get a 'feel' for whether that idea 'fits' or not. the result is our subjective 'feelings'. 'feeling' is therefore an outgrowth of 'thinking' (fuzzy logic). the trouble with feelings is that they are highly subjective by which I mean that we tend to see whatever we look for. we might have a 'feerling' that someone is hiding behind the shower curtain even though we know its ridiculous.

 

 

if in subjective thinking we tend to see what we want to see then what would happen if we wanted to see the objective truth? the answer is that that is exactly what we would see and the result is deductive reasoning. deductive reasoning is therefore an outgrowth of our 'feelings' (by removal of all subjective bias).

 

 

I dont know one way or the other whether the hippocampus is at the very top of the pyramid (it might be. I really dont know). I've always heard that studying the hippocampus and its structure is somehow very instructive but I've never been able to make much sense out of it.

 

 

curiousity is associated with fuzzy logic

maternal empathy is associated with 'feelings'

sympathy (love) is associated with deductive reasoning.

 

the last one probably seems rather strange so I'll elaborate. when you sympathize with someone you are seeing things from their perspective. likewise deductive reasoning requires that we see things from the point of view of objective reality (as opposed to our own subjective point of view).


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consciousness can be thought of as what we 'think' of as ourself.

ego can be though of as what we 'feel' is our self.

I'll tentatively call 'essence' that which we 'know' is our self. that is to say the true nature of our true self.

the hippocampus is part of the temporal lobe and lies very close to the thalamus. both of these suggest to me that it is not the 'top of the pyramid' as the op says.

 

http://homepages.nyu.edu/~eh597/seahorse.htm

The hippocampus, when cut transverse to its longitudinal (septal-temporal) axis, exibits a strong afferent set of three connected pathways known as the "trisynaptic" circuit or loop ( Andersen, Holmqvist, and Voorhoeve, 1966; Swanson 1978; 1982; Witter, 1989). First, layers II and III or the "surface layers" of the entorhinal cortex project to the granule cells of the dentate-gyrus, via the perforant-path. Second, the granule cells of the dentate gyrus project to the large pyramidal cells of Cornu Amonnis or Ammon's horn, subfield 3 (CA3), via the mossy fibres system. Third and finally, the CA3 pyramidal cells project to the pyramidal cells of the CA1 subfield, via the Schaffer collateral system ( Lorente de No, 1934; Blackstad, 1956; 1958; Amaral 1978 Bayer, 1985 Amaral and Witter, 1989 Witter, 1989).

 

 

it seems possible to me that in order to squeeze in more circuits up close to the thalamus that the hippocampus has become compressed along its longitudinal axis. consequently, the trisynaptic circuit we see in a plane normal to the longitudinal axis may simply be an exploded view of the normal circuitry of the brain.

 

thats my 2 cents worth.


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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortical_column

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_cortex#Laminar_pattern


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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entorhinal_cortex

The entorhinal cortex (EC) is an important memory center in the brain. The EC forms the main input to the hippocampus and is responsible for the pre-processing (familiarity) of the input signals. In the reflex nictitating membrane response of classical trace conditioning, the association of impulses from the eye and the ear occurs in the entorhinal cortex. The EC-hippocampus system plays an important role in memory consolidation and memory optimization in sleep.

 

Entorhinal cortex is one of the first areas to be affected in Alzheimer's Disease, and one of the first symptoms is impaired sense of direction. In 2005, it was discovered that entorhinal cortex contains a neural map of the spatial environment.[1]


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A distinguishing characteristic of the EC is the lack of cell bodies where layer IV should be; this layer is called the lamina dissecans.

The superficial layers - layers II and III - of EC project to the dentate gyrus and hippocampus: Layer II projects primarily to dentate gyrus and hippocampal region CA3; layer III projects primarily to hippocampal region CA1 and the subiculum.

 

 

I wonder if the granule cells of the dentate gyrus correspond to the missing layer 4 cells of the hippocampus?

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