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.

Background to these pages

This set of interlinked web pages (43 separate pages at the time of writing) has been many years in the making, and all the work has been done by me in my spare time. This page gives some details on the background to that process that may (or may not) be of interest.

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

  1. ^ Multitasking by Brain Wave - Scientific American magazine May 2016
    This is just one example of an article in a much-respected science magazine that gave no reference to the original research on which the article is based (although I found it by chance later, see reference 3 below). The wording of the article caught my attention because of the unusual claims about brain waves (see also details of why brain waves may be a unhelpful area of research on my page about levels of description), but I could not get any more details about what was actually found, or the past research being referred to.
    “...past research suggests that when place cells encode spatial memories they produce theta waves, which operate on a relatively slow, long-wave frequency. Yet these theta oscillations do not work alone. They also contain shorter and more frequent gamma rhythms nested within them like folded accordion bellows. As each wave of electrical activity pops up at the gamma frequency, it conveys information nuggets to the interacting theta wave, effectively presenting a highlights reel relative to the longer theta wave.”
  2. ^ Time-locked multiregional retroactivation: a systems-level proposal for the neural substrates of recall and recognition - Damasio 1989
    doi: 10.1016/0010-0277(89)90005-X downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    I could have chosen from any number of examples of jargon-laden text, but here is one from some years ago, by someone who is now a well-respected writer of popular science books. To someone in the same field, the meaning of this may be very clear, but to others it is not.
    Page 30, last paragraph
    : “That the bilateral destruction of those cortices should preclude the perception of reality as a coherent multimodal experience and reduce experience to disjointed, modality-specific tracks of sensory or motor processing to the extent permitted by the single modality association cortices;”
  3. ^ Spatial Sequence Coding Differs during Slow and Fast Gamma Rhythms in the Hippocampus - Zheng, Bieri, Hsiao and Colgin 2016
    doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.005 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    This is one of a number of examples of a paper that may contain some useful research, but the summaries in the paper and the various press reviews contain statements that are clearly nonsense.
    One press review of this paper is in reference 1 above. Another is in the magazine Newsweek, which published “Brain waves compress memory files”, which is a very strange headline to start with, and said:

    “...researchers announced the discovery of a mechanism that compresses information we use for memory retrieval and planning future actions, and encodes that data onto a brain wave frequency that’s separate from the one our brains use to record experiences in real time. This second brain wave frequency is the one we use to play back memories much faster than they actually happened, the researchers found.”
    Brain waves of any variety are electrical signals picked up by an EEG machine that show some sort of periodicity, i.e. neuron activity in the area being monitored that has a reasonably regular rhythm at a particular speed, and the fact that (this is a quote from Wikipedia on EEG: “EEG activity therefore always reflects the summation of the synchronous activity of thousands or millions of neurons that have similar spatial orientation. If the cells do not have similar spatial orientation, their ions do not line up and create waves to be detected. ... Because voltage field gradients fall off with the square of distance, activity from deep sources is more difficult to detect than currents near the skull.” Since there is no known mechanism by which the brain could modulate/encode memory (or any other) data onto a brain wave, or unmodulate/decode from a brain wave, these claims cannot be true. What is actually meant is that EEG results show that the compression is being done at the time a particular brain wave frequency is detected, and played back at a time when a different brain wave frequency is detected. There probably is a correlation, but there is no encoding going on.

Page last uploaded Wed Jan 31 07:50:27 2024 MST