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.

Mind-boggling brain

“Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe”
said Dr Michio Kaku in 20141.

Something that is mind-boggling is a new and surprising fact that might make you think “wow!” and that you are likely to remember. Within the context of the explanation on this website, this equates to your mind, which is your self symbol schema and the model of you, being told a new relationship between things, which are represented in your brain by two or more other symbol schemas, that is surprising, meaning a connection did not previously exist, that you are likely to then remember because new synapse connections will be made between those symbol schemas.

This page starts with some mind-boggling statements about the human brain (I could call this the “hype bucket”!) and moves on to some rather more complicated mind-boggling thoughts.

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

  1. ^ Behold the Most Complicated Object in the Known Universe - Dr Michio Kaku.
    The well-known theoretical physicist speaking on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC radio on February 25th 2014. The quote is in the second paragraph of the Interview Highlights and at 9'37" in the podcast.
    However, this quote is not completely original; in the book by Isaac Asimov, “Past, Present, and Future” (1987 Prometheus Books), he made a statement that is perhaps more accurate (page 99, 2nd paragraph):
    “The human brain, then, is the most complicated organization of matter that we know.”
  2. ^ Driven by compression progress (or here) - Schmidhuber 2009
    doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-02565-5_4 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    See bottom of page 4 to page 5 under the heading “Store everything”: “A human lifetime rarely lasts much longer than 3x10^9 seconds. The human brain has roughly 10^10 neurons, each with 10^4 synapses on average. Assuming that only half of the brain’s capacity is used for storing raw data, and that each synapse can store at most 6 bits, there is still enough capacity to encode the lifelong sensory input stream with a rate of roughly 10^5 bits/s, comparable to the demands of a movie with reasonable resolution.”
    I am a bit dubious about this because I am not certain how the statement that “each synapse can store at most 6 bits” can be justified.
  3. ^ Principles of Neural Science Fifth edition - Kandel et al. McGraw-Hill US 2012
    Page 3, first paragraph under the heading “Overall Perspective”: “How does the brain - an organ weighing only three pounds - conceive of the infinite, discover new knowledge, and produce the remarkable individuality of human thoughts, feelings, and actions?”
  4. ^ The brain: Looking over the neuroscience horizon - Michael O’Shea
    This article in British science magazine “New Scientist” of 3rd April 2013 says: “Physicist Erwin Schrodinger suspected that the human mind might be beyond human understanding”.
    It is referring to Schrodinger’s book What is life? downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    (page 11), end of chapter 2:
    “That is a marvel - than which only one is greater; one that, if intimately connected with it, yet lies on a different plane. I mean the fact that we, whose total being is entirely based on a marvellous interplay of this very kind, yet possess the power of acquiring considerable knowledge about it. I think it is possible that this knowledge may advance to little short of a complete understanding of the first marvel. The second may well be beyond human understanding.”
  5. ^ Can We Solve the Mind-Body Problem - McGinn 1989
    downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    Page 366, sixth line: “It is just that, in the case of the mind-body problem, the bit of reality that systematically eludes our cognitive grasp is an aspect of our own nature.”
    Or see the discussion on the Wikipedia page for Colin McGinn.
  6. ^ Godel, Escher, Bach - Douglas Hofstadter Penguin Books UK 1979
    This fascinating book, despite its title, is mostly about the functioning of the brain, although it covers many other subjects as well.
    See pages 697-8 under the heading “Can we understand our own minds or brains?” and his conclusion on page 706 under the heading “Understanding the mind”:
    “I see no Godelian obstacle in the way of the eventual understanding of our minds.”
  7. ^ “The Brain”, an essay taken from 66 Essays on the Past, Present, and Future - Prometheus Books, Isaac Asimov 1987 (the essay first appeared in “The 3-Pound Universe”, by Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi, Macmillan, 1986)
    Page 99, third, fourth and fifth paragraphs: “The brain is so complex, indeed, and human attempts to understand how it works have, till now, met with such apparent insurmountable hurdles that it seems a fair question to ask whether we can ever understand the brain, whether it is possible to do so. After all, we are trying to understand the brain by using the brain. Can something understand itself? Can the brain’s complexity comprehend a brain's complexity?
    If one human brain were alone involved, these questions would be fair, and might be answered in the negative. However, not one human brain but many are tackling the subject; not one human being but a scientific team that is scattered over the world is doing so. Each researcher may, after years of work, add only a trifling bit to the sum of our neurological knowledge, but all the researchers together are making significant and, in some cases, astonishing progress.”
  8. ^ The fantastic organ - Friston 2013
    doi: 10.1093/brain/awt038 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    A review of the book “The Age of Insight” by Eric Kandel, 2nd paragraph: “Put simply, the brain is - literally - a fantastic organ (fantastic: from Greek phantastikos, able to create mental images, from phantazesthai).”

Page last uploaded Sat Mar 2 02:55:42 2024 MST