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.


Reinstatement is my preferred term for the reactivation of neurons that were activated when a symbol schema was created or updated, back towards the source of the data, often in the sensory or motor areas of the brain, when a symbol schema is activated. It is one of the high-level brain processes that form part of level 6 of my hierarchy of levels of description, and it depends on the existence of symbol schemas described in level 4.

Reinstatement is the process by which the higher-level functions of consciousness and attention provide feeling, qualia and emotions as well as the meaning attached to an concept, and involves the temporary inclusion of the representation of the concept into the self symbol schema, my representation of my self.

Contents of this page
Overview - an overview of my definition and use of the term.
History - a history of the term and other names for similar functions, and how they relate to my proposal.
Details - a detailed explanation of my definition and use of the term, with examples.
References - references and footnotes.


History and other names


Picture of a red frisbee

Diagram of the reinstatement of a symbol schema that represents a frisbee

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

  1. ^ Reinstatement - Campbell and Jaynes 1966
    doi: 10.1037/h0023679 or see GoogleScholar
    First page, second paragraph: “By reinstatement we denote a small amount of partial practice or repetition of an experience over the developmental period which is enough to maintain an early learned response at a high level, but is not enough to produce any effect in animals which have not had the early experience.”
  2. ^ Recollection and the Reinstatement of Encoding-Related Cortical Activity - Johnson and Rugg 2007
    doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhl156 or see GoogleScholar
    This paper refers to a “reinstatement hypothesis”. For example, page 2511, under the heading “Discussion”: “According to the reinstatement hypothesis outlined in the introduction, neural activity associated with the processing of an episode as it is encoded should be 'reactivated' when the episode is later recollected. The present study employed a design in which the neural correlates of encoding and later recollection could be directly compared within subjects. Consistent with the reinstatement hypothesis, regions where recollection-related activity differentiated test items according to their encoding history overlapped with some of the regions in which activity differed at the time of encoding. Moreover, this pattern of study-test overlap was selective; no regions were identified where recollection-related activity associated with items from a particular task overlapped with encoding-related activity for items from the alternative task.”
  3. ^ Recollection, familiarity, and cortical reinstatement - a multivoxel pattern analysis - Johnson, McDuff, Rugg and Norman 2009
    doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.08.011 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    This interesting paper builds on the previous one (Recollection and the Reinstatement of Encoding-Related Cortical Activity) and concludes that episodic memories (memories of events in time) are stored in the hippocampus and include reinstated links, and non-episodic memories (memories of facts and procedures) are stored in the cortex and are reinstated from there. In both this and the previous paper, there is little reference to the reinstated areas being sensory or motor areas, but some of the other sources these papers reference make clear that they are certainly a relevant part of it.
    Summary, first page:
    “Episodic memory retrieval is thought to involve reinstatement of the neurocognitive processes engaged when an episode was encoded. Prior fMRI studies and computational models have suggested that reinstatement is limited to instances in which specific episodic details are recollected. We used multivoxel pattern-classification analyses of fMRI data to investigate how reinstatement is associated with different memory judgments, particularly those accompanied by recollection versus a feeling of familiarity (when recollection is absent). Classifiers were trained to distinguish between brain activity patterns associated with different encoding tasks and were subsequently applied to recognition-related fMRI data to determine the degree to which patterns were reinstated. Reinstatement was evident during both recollection- and familiarity-based judgments, providing clear evidence that reinstatement is not sufficient for eliciting a recollective experience. The findings are interpreted as support for a continuous, recollection-related neural signal that has been central to recent debate over the nature of recognition memory processes.”
  4. ^ ^ Oscillatory Reinstatement Enhances Declarative Memory - Javadi, Glen, Halkiopoulos, Schulz and Spiers 2017
    doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0265-17.2017 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    This research reported in this paper shows that memory recall is better if an alternating current of a specific frequency is applied to the brain at the time of a memory being encoded as well at the later time of attempted retrieval; it is not better if a different frequency is used at the time of encoding from the time of retrieval (the timescale between encoding and retrieval is quite short). This is a rather circuitous way of showing that similar pathways are used, but there is also a useful review of earlier research which has shown that reinstatement involves activation of the same neurons that were activated when the memory was encoded.
    First page, end of “Significance Statement” box:
    “reinstatement of neural oscillations during retrieval supports successful memory retrieval.”
    Page 9942, second paragraph: “Numerous models have argued that the successful retrieval of past experience involves a reinstatement of activity that previously occurred during encoding.”
  5. ^ ^ Ibid. Oscillatory Reinstatement Enhances Declarative Memory
    Page 9939 (Introduction): “We now report causal evidence in support of the oscillatory reinstatement hypothesis. We took advantage of the potential capacity of transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) to entrain oscillations. Gamma and theta oscillations have been shown to have a mechanistic role in memory formation, linking memory formation to cellular mechanisms of learning, and coordination of hippocampus with other brain areas.”
    Page 9942 (Discussion): “In this view, the stimulation enhances memory by reinstating the encoding conditions in the network of brain areas responsible for the reactivation of the memory trace. This reinstatement may enhance processes such as pattern completion where similar network level inputs are transmitted to regions reconstructing the pattern of activity laid down at encoding, such as is thought to occur in hippocampal area CA3.”
  6. ^ ^ 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.
    Page 26, Introduction: “...during free recall or recall generated by perception in a recognition task, the multiple region activity necessary for experience occurs near the sensory portals and motor output sites of the system... Hence the term retroactivation to indicate that recall of experiences depends on reactivation close to input and output sites rather than away from them.”
  7. ^ Reactivation of encoding-related brain activity during memory retrieval - Nyberg, Habib, McIntosh and Tulving 2000
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.97.20.11120 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    This paper refers to “redintegration”, a term used in psychology to mean the recollection of a multi-sensory experience triggered by a single-sense event or thought.
    Page 11123, first paragraph of Discussion:

    “...these findings provide support for the view that retrieval of specific event information is associated with reactivation of some of the regions that were involved during encoding of this information.”
    Later in Discussion, last paragraph of left-hand column:
    “...sensory aspects of multisensory event information are stored in some of the brain regions that were activated at encoding.”
    Page 11124, last paragraph of Discussion:
    “...although we have stressed encoding-retrieval similarities in the present study and provided support that reactivation of encoding-related activity during retrieval refers to a real physiological process in the brain, it is important to stress that the reality of reactivation does not mean that retrieval is, or is no more than, a simple 'replay' of the activation in the same neuronal networks that are engaged at encoding. Rather, there is substantial evidence that episodic memory encoding and retrieval processes have different neuroanatomical correlates, and the present results may best be seen as providing an example where encoding and retrieval processes meet in the brain.”
  8. ^ Conceptual representations in mind and brain: Theoretical developments, current evidence and future directions - Kiefer and Pulvermuller 2011
    doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2011.04.006 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    Abstract on first page, just over half-way through: “...concepts are flexible, distributed representations comprised of modality-specific conceptual features. Conceptual features are stored in distinct sensory and motor brain areas depending on specific sensory and motor experiences during concept acquisition.”
    Page 821, Conclusions, second sentence: “Convergent results indicate that concepts are flexible mental entities that are constituted by distributed represented conceptual features. Concepts are embodied in the sense that their conceptual features are represented in sensory and motor brain areas in an experience-dependent fashion.”
    Bottom of same page: “...the embodiment theory grounds abstract concepts in perception, action and emotion through their reference to concrete situations that can be experienced”
  9. ^ ^ How emotions are made - The secret life of the brain - Lisa Feldman Barrett 2017 Pan Books (UK) or see GoogleScholar.
    This book, as the title suggests, is mostly about the construction of emotions, but it touches on many other areas, and does discuss the representation of concepts in the brain, because emotions are examples of concepts (see feeling and emotion).
    Page 26, in chapter 2 entitled “Emotions are constructed”, fifth paragraph, having discussed the construction of images in the brain, once the meaning is known:
    “This little magic trick of the brain is so common and normal that psychologists discovered it time and time again before they understood how it worked. We call it simulation. It means that your brain changed the firing of its own sensory neurons in the absence of incoming sensory input. Simulation can be visual... or involve any other senses. Ever have a song playing in your head that you can’t get rid of? That audio hallucination is also a simulation.”
    Page 373, note 1 relating to the same paragraph in chapter 2: “As is typical in science, different psychologists have called this mental feat by different names, depending on their research interests. Examples are 'perceptual inference' and 'perceptual completion', 'embodied cognition' and 'grounded cognition'.”
    And in online notes that accompany the book, first paragraph, relating to research that found that simply asking a volunteer to pull a face resembling an emotion created changes in the brain and the body that typically were found in real occurrences of that emotion: “Neurons in certain parts of the brain change the firing of neurons in sensory and motor regions of the brain. This process, known as simulation, is also called embodiment, embodied cognition, perceptual inference, or grounded cognition.”
  10. ^ Grounded Cognition - Barsalou 2008
    doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.59.103006.093639 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    From page 617, abstract: “...grounded cognition proposes that modal simulations, bodily states, and situated action underlie cognition.”
    Page 618, third paragraph: “Simulation is the reenactment of perceptual, motor, and introspective states acquired during experience with the world, body, and mind. As an experience occurs (e.g., easing into a chair), the brain captures states across the modalities and integrates them with a multimodal representation stored in memory (e.g., how a chair looks and feels, the action of sitting, introspections of comfort and relaxation). Later, when knowledge is needed to represent a category (e.g., chair), multimodal representations captured during experiences with its instances are reactivated to simulate how the brain represented perception, action, and introspection associated with it.”
  11. ^ Situated simulation in the human conceptual system - Barsalou 2003
    doi: 10.1080/01690960344000026 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    Summary on the first page: “... conceptual representations are multi-modal simulations distributed across modality-specific systems.”
    Page 514, second paragraph: “Each time a component [of experience] is attended to, the information extracted becomes integrated with past information about the same component in memory. When attention focuses on a blue patch of colour, for example, the information extracted is stored with previous memories of blue, thereby producing categorical knowledge for this component.”
  12. ^ Reinstatement of memory representations for lifelike events over the course of a week - Oedekoven, Keidel, Berens and Bird 2017
    doi:10.1038/s41598-017-13938-4 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    This research uses MRI scanning to test retrieval of an episodic memory from a week previous and shows that the reinstatement does involve the same neurons, as did a number of previous studies that are cited.
    It also showed that memories are strengthened if the memory is “rehearsed” [any student knows that they remember something better if they go through it in their mind].
  13. ^ Ibid. Reinstatement of memory representations for lifelike events over the course of a week
    Pages 1-2 (introduction) says that: “Reinstatement effects between encoding and retrieving episodic memories are usually seen within a 'core retrieval network' including the hippocampus/parahippocampal gyrus, the angular gyrus (AG) and posterior midline cortex (PMC) including precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC)”.
    Page 10 (discussion) says: “Reinstatement effects were localized within the core retrieval network. The effects were centered on posterior brain regions, namely bilateral precuneus, bilateral inferior lateral parietal lobe/angular gyrus and bilateral middle temporal/occipital gyrus. This network has been found in many memory retrieval studies... It is thought that these regions represent high-level, relatively abstract information, such as the situational content of an event, rather than low-level sensory information.”
  14. ^ Abstract and concrete concepts have structurally different representational frameworks - Crutch and Warrington 2005
    doi:10.1093/brain/awh349 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    Page 1, Summary, second column: “abstract concepts, but not concrete concepts, are represented in an associative neural network.”
  15. ^ The Challenge of Abstract Concepts - Borghi, Binkofski, Castelfranchi, Cimatti, Scorolli and Tummolini 2017
    doi: 10.1037/bul0000089 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    Abstract, page 1: “The way in which abstract concepts are represented has recently become a topic of intense debate, especially because of the spread of the embodied approach to cognition. ... the most promising approach is given by multiple representation views that combine an embodied perspective with the recognition of the importance of linguistic and social experience.”
  16. ^ 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.
    Page 50:
    “The perception of an isomorphism between two known structures is a significant advance in knowledge - and I claim that it is such perceptions of isomorphism which create meanings in the minds of people.”
  17. ^ Ibid. Godel, Escher, Bach
    Page 710: “...the subjective feeling of redness comes from the vortex of self-perception in the brain”.

Page last uploaded Thu Feb 22 14:40:40 2024 MST