Hierarchical Brain

An explanation of the human brain

First published 1st February 2024. This is version 1.5 published 2nd March 2024.
Three pages are not yet published: sleep, memory and an index.
Copyright © 2024 Email info@hierarchicalbrain.com

Warning - the conclusions of this website may be disturbing for some people without a stable mental disposition or with a religious conviction.

Abstraction and prediction-enhanced selection

This is my name for the second of four levels of description of the afferent processing of sense and other data. It is level 3 of 7 in my hierarchical structure, “above” memory-enhanced coincidence detection and lateral inhibition but “below” symbol schemas.

This page describes the three components of abstraction and prediction-enhanced selection and how they emerge from the three components of memory-enhanced coincidence detection and lateral inhibition, although it is not a one-to-one transmutation.

Contents of this page
Abstraction - how compression and abstraction emerge from afferent memory-enhanced coincidence detection.
Prediction - how prediction emerges from efferent memory-enhanced coincidence detection.
Selection - how selection emerges from lateral inhibition.
References - references and footnotes.




References For information on references, see structure of this website - references

  1. ^ On Intelligence or On Intelligence - Jeff Hawkins with Sandra Blakeslee St. Martin’s Press USA 2004
    Page 82, talking about invariant representations: “I believe a similar abstraction of form is occurring throughout the cortex, in every region. This is a general property of the neocortex. Memories are stored in a form that captures the essence of a relationship, not the details of the moment. When you see, feel, or hear something, the cortex takes the detailed, highly specific input and converts it to an invariant form. It is the invariant form that is stored in memory, and it is the invariant form of each new input pattern that it gets compared to.”
  2. ^ ^ How emotions are made - The secret life of the brain - Lisa Feldman Barrett 2017 Pan Books (UK) or see GoogleScholar.
    In the chapter entitled “How the brain makes emotions”, page 113, third paragraph: “The infant brain is missing most of the concepts that we have as adults. ... Not surprisingly, the infant brain does not predict well. A grown-up brain is dominated by prediction, but an infant brain is awash in prediction error. So babies must learn about the world from sensory input before their brains can model the world. This learning is a primary task of the infant brain. At first, much of the onslaught of sensory input is new to an infant’s brain, and its significance is undetermined, so little will be ignored. ... Infants absorb the sensory input around them and learn, learn, learn. The developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik describes babies as having a 'lantern' of attention that is exquisitely bright but diffuse. In contrast, your adult brain has a network to shut out information that might sidetrack your predictions, allowing you to do things like read this book without distraction. You have a built-in 'spotlight' of attention that illuminates some things, such as these words, while leaving other things in the dark. The infant brain’s 'lantern' cannot focus in this manner. As the months pass, if everything is working properly, the infant brain begins to predict more effectively. Sensations from the outside world have become concepts in the infant’s model of the world.”
  3. ^ Concept cells: the building blocks of declarative memory functions - Quiroga 2012
    doi: 10.1038/nrn3251 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    From beginning of “Conclusions and open questions”, page 595: “Our thoughts are based on abstractions and the attribution of meaning to what we sense or recall. Concept cells in the human hippocampus are the pinnacle of this abstraction process and provide a sparse, explicit and invariant representation of concepts, which, I have argued, are the building blocks for memory functions, such as the creation of associations, episodic memories and the flow of consciousness. This interpretation is supported by a large number of studies showing the role of the MTL in memory and the creation of associations, and also by the specific characteristics of concept cells discussed above.”
  4. ^ The Nature of Explanation - Kenneth Craik Cambridge University Press 1943 or see GoogleScholar.
    Chapter 6 entitled “Some consequences of this hypothesis”, pages 69 and 71 under the heading “Abstraction and brain mechanisms”: “...one of the characteristics of memory and perceptions is the recognition of identity or of similarity. To recognise a thing is surely to react to it, internally, or overtly, as the 'same thing' to which we reacted on a previous occasion. ...the more subtle forms of recognition - recognition of similar shapes of different sizes, or casting their images on different parts of the retina, of the 'three-ness' of three apples or three oranges, or of relations such as 'to the left of'. These represent degrees of 'abstraction', that is, separation of the common characteristic from any particular physical object or situation, and of 'relation', that is, of position in space and time relatively to other objects.”
  5. ^ The brain from inside out - Gyorgy Buzsaki 2019 Oxford University Press
    doi: 10.1093/oso/9780190905385.001.0001 or see GoogleScholar.
    Page 292, in Chapter 11 entitled “Gain and Abstraction”, under the heading “Abstraction by Different Reference Frames”: “It is remarkable that the transformation between eye-centered and body-centered coordinates requires only a neuronal gain mechanism. If such a simple mechanism work for one coordinate transformation, perhaps it can be deployed for similar purposes in other circuits. That is, the body-centered information carried by neurons that read the output of the parietal cortex can undergo further transformation at the next level of computation using the same type of gain control mechanism. Along the way, ever more complex features of the retinal information can be extracted. When an object is viewed, approached, and touched from different directions, the multiple experiences may strip off the particular conditions in which the object was sensed, leaving only its essential features, regardless of where they appear in the visual field. This is known as 'translation invariance', an abstraction.”
  6. ^ The global landscape of cognition: hierarchical aggregation as an organizational principle of human cortical networks and functions - Taylor, Hobbs, Burroni and Siegelmann 2015
    doi: 10.1038/srep18112 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    End of Abstract on page 1: “...we objectively sorted stratified landscapes of cognition, starting from grouped sensory inputs in parallel, progressing deeper into cortex. This exposed escalating amalgamation of function or abstraction with increasing network depth, globally. Nearly 500 new participants confirmed our results. In conclusion, data-driven analyses defined a hierarchically ordered connectome, revealing a related continuum of cognitive function. Progressive functional abstraction over network depth may be a fundamental feature of brains, and is observed in artificial networks.”
    End of discussion, page 16: “From tangible sensory inputs, symbolic content may progressively emerge as information is processed deeper into the brain’s structural network, starting with inputs, and expanding in abstraction or refinement, resulting in intangible or deep symbolic content in the structural pinnacle of the human brain network. These experiments successfully addressed a proverbial 'elephant in the room' an assumption about brain function, sometimes taken as axiomatic, though at times objected, that seems simultaneously too grand, too simplistic, and too complicated to demonstrate comprehensively.”
  7. ^ Daily Oscillation of the Excitation-Inhibition Balance in Visual Cortical Circuits - Bridi, Zong, Min, Luo, Tran, Qiu, Severin, Zhang, Wang, Zhu, He and Kirkwood 2020
    doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.11.011 downloadable GoogleScholar.
    Summary, page 621: “A balance between synaptic excitation and inhibition (E/I balance) maintained within a narrow window is widely regarded to be crucial for cortical processing. In line with this idea, the E/I balance is reportedly comparable across neighboring neurons, behavioral states, and developmental stages and altered in many neurological disorders. Motivated by these ideas, we examined whether synaptic inhibition changes over the 24-h day to compensate for the well-documented sleep-dependent changes in synaptic excitation. We found that, in pyramidal cells of visual and prefrontal cortices and hippocampal CA1, synaptic inhibition also changes over the 24-h light/dark cycle but, surprisingly, in the opposite direction of synaptic excitation. Inhibition is upregulated in the visual cortex during the light phase in a sleep-dependent manner. In the visual cortex, these changes in the E/I balance occurred in feedback, but not feedforward, circuits. These observations open new and interesting questions on the function and regulation of the E/I balance.”

Page last uploaded Mon Feb 19 10:43:53 2024 MST