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.


Language is not inherent; it is taught and passed from generation to generation. It is a purely cultural phenomenon, but has been the main driver of human cultural progress over thousands of years. The ability to learn and use language is not inherited, it needs no unique brain capability, but it makes the functioning of the brain more efficient, increases knowledge and intelligence, and has an effect on feelings, emotions and consciousness.

The unique ability of humans to use language is enabled by a special set of symbol schemas that are symbols for symbols. This includes symbols representing written words, which are symbols for spoken words, which are in turn symbols for other concepts. Many other cultural fields that involve abstract concepts also make use of meta-symbols, such as mathematics and music (I intend to include pages on these two at some point in the future, and possibly some other cultural subjects later).

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

  1. ^ Ducklings imprint on a relational concept of 'same or different' - Martinho and Kacelnik 2016
    doi: 10.1126/science.aaf4247 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    The abstract on the first page says: “The ability to identify and retain logical relations between stimuli and apply them to novel stimuli is known as relational concept learning. This has been demonstrated in a few animal species after extensive reinforcement training, and it reveals the brain’s ability to deal with abstract properties. Here we show relational concept learning in newborn ducklings without reinforced training. Newly hatched domesticated mallards briefly exposed to a pair of objects that were either the same or different in shape or colour later preferred to follow pairs of new objects exhibiting the imprinted relation.”
  2. ^ The Origins of Same/Different Discrimination in Human Infants - Hespos, Gentner, Anderson and Shivaram 2020
    doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2020.10.013 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    Conclusion on page 11: “Our studies demonstrate that infants have a relational processing mechanism that can compare across examples to form abstract relations.... What is new about the contributions from the infant work is that same/different discrimination is present in the first year of life suggesting that the ability emerges prior to and independent of language.”
  3. ^ Abstract and concrete concepts have structurally different representational frameworks - Crutch and Warrington 2005
    doi: 10.1093/brain/awh349 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    Two-thirds of the way through the Summary: “...abstract concepts, but not concrete concepts, are represented in an associative neural network.”
  4. ^ Ibid. Abstract and concrete concepts have structurally different representational frameworks
    Conclusion, page 623, third paragraph: “Abstract concepts, however, may be acquired in the context of language without any direct perceptual input.”

Page last uploaded Wed Jan 31 07:25:02 2024 MST