The holonomic brain theory , originated by Karl Pribram and initially developed in collaboration with David Bohm , models cognitive function as being guided by a matrix of neurological wave interference patterns situated temporally between holographic Gestalt perception and discrete, affective, quantum vectors derived from reward anticipation potentials. Pribram was originally struck by the similarity of the hologram idea and Bohm's idea of the implicate order in physics, and contacted him for collaboration. In particular, the fact that information about an image point is distributed throughout the hologram, such that each piece of the hologram contains some information about the entire image, seemed suggestive to Pribram about how the brain could encode memories. Pribram,
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Curator: Karl Pribram. Eugene M. Marc-Oliver Gewaltig. The Holonomic Brain Theory describes a type of process that occurs in fine fibered neural webs. The process is composed of patches of local field potentials described mathematically as windowed Fourier transforms or wavelets. The Fourier approach to sensory perception is the basis for the holonomic theory of brain function. Holonomy, as its name implies, is related to the unconstrained Fourier co-ordinate system described by holography.
The Fourier transformation changes a space-time coordinate system into a spectral coordinate system within which the properties of our ordinary images are spread throughout the system.
Fourier transformations are routinely performed on electrical recordings from the brain such as EEG and local field potentials. Dennis Gabor had pioneered the use of windowed Fourier processes for use in communication theory and noted its similarity to its use in describing quantum processes in subatomic physics.
Karl Pribram's holonomic theory is based on evidence that the dendritic receptive fields in sensory cortexes are described mathematically by Gabor functions. Taking the visual system as an example, the form of an optical image is transformed by the retina into a quantum process that is transmitted to the visual cortex.
Each dendritic receptive field thus represents the "spread" of the properties of that form originating from the entire retina. Taken together, cortical receptive fields form patches of dendritic local field potentials described mathematically by Gabor functions. Note that the spread of properties occurs within each patch; there is no spread of the Fourier process over the large extent of the entire cortex. In order to serve the perceptual process the patches must become assembled by the operation of nerve impulses in axonal circuits.
Processing the vibratory sensory inputs in audition and in tactile sensation proceeds somewhat similarly. But Gabor and similar wavelet functions, though useful in communication and computations, fail to serve as the properties of images and objects that guide us in the space-time world we navigate.
In order to attain such properties an inverse Fourier transformation has to occur. Fortunately the Fourier process is readily invertible; the same transformation that begets the holographic domain, gets us back into space-time.
The inverse Fourier transformation is accomplished by movement. In vision , nystagmoid movements define pixels, points which are mathematically defined by "Point Attractors ". Larger eye and head movements define groupings of points which can readily be recognized as moving space-time figures. Such groupings are mathematically defined as "Symmetry Groups". The brain processes involved are organized by a motor cortex immediately adjacent to the primary visual cortex.
Similar motor strips are located adjacent to other sensory input systems. The details of the evidence for how these processes work are described in Lectures 3, 4, and 5 of Pribram, Brain and Perception. The experimental mapping procedure originated with Stephen Kuffler.
Kuffler , working with the visual system took the common clinical procedure of mapping visual fields into the microelectrode laboratory. A visual field is described as the part of the environment that a person can see with one eye without moving that eye.
Maps of this field are routinely recorded by means of the verbal response of the person to a spot of light on an appropriate medium such as graph paper. For the verbal response of the human, Kuffler substituted the response of a single neuron recorded from a microelectrode implanted in the visual system of an animal.
Because the record was made from the domain of a single neuron rather than the whole visual system, the map portrayed what was going on in the dendritic arbor of that neuron. The dendritic arbor Figure 1 is made up of fibers for the most part too fine to support propagated action potentials, spikes. Rather the local field potential changes oscillate between moderate excitation postsynaptic depolarization and inhibition post-synaptic hyper-polarization. The maps therefore represent a distribution of oscillations of electrical potentials within a particular dendritic arbor.
However, a decade later many laboratories -- especially those of Fergus Campbell at The University of Cambridge, England; and Russel and Karen DeValois at The University of California at Berkeley -- found that oriented gratings composed of lines at different spacing, rather than single lines were the effective stimulus to engage a neuron in the visual cortex. These gratings were characterized by their spatial frequency: scanning the grating produces an alternation between light and dark, the frequency of alternation depending on the spacing of the grating.
An example in the somatosensory cortex of three receptive fields and their contour maps produced by a tactile grating is presented in Figure 2.
Theories of perception based on frequencies gave rise to a transformational view of the processing of visual signals. Mathematically, this transformational view is based on the Fourier theorem. This theorem states that any space-time pattern can be transformed into a spectrum based on waveforms that encode amplitudes, frequencies and the relationships among their phases. Usefully, we can invert the process to regain the space-time pattern from the spectrum. A fast Fourier procedure FFT is commonly used in statistics to make correlations.
The Fourier procedure is also routinely found useful in electroencephalography EEG to distinguish individual frequencies and frequency bands among the recorded electrical waveforms. It has also served as a principle basis for understanding hearing ever since its application by Ohm and Helmholtz The successful application of these procedures to the study of visual processes has come only in the last two decades.
Holonomy, as its name implies, is related to the less constrained co-ordinate system described by holography. Quantum holography, holonomy, uses windowed Fourier transformations, often called "wavelets". Gabor had pioneered this use in communication theory and noted its similarity to its use in describing quantum processes in subatomic physics.
There are four common misconception about the application of holographic and holonomic theories — that is, holonomic procedures -- to brain function. The first and most important of these is that, contrary to what is shown in Figure 3 , the processing that occurs in the dendritic arbor, in the receptive field, is performed by propagated nerve impulses. Finding that impulses do occur in certain dendrites readily produces such a misconception.
Those of us who have been concerned with processes occurring in fine-fibered webs have been too prone to focus on dendrites per se. Dendrites, defined as afferents to neural cell bodies, come in all sizes. The biggest of them all are the afferent peripheral nerves entering the spinal cord. Such large fibers readily support the propagation of nerve impulses.
Large diameter fibers occur both as afferent dendritic and efferent axonal fibers in neural circuits. The hippocampal dendrites, though not as large as peripheral nerves, have sizable diameters.
The very fact that Kandell and others can make intracellular recordings from these hippocampal dendrites attests to their considerable size. The webs wherein holonomic processes occur in the hippocampus and elsewhere are made up of pre- and postsynaptic slim branches of larger fibers. Fine fibered webs occur in the brain, both at the ends of branching axons and within dendritic arbors.
The holonomic brain theory is founded in the processing that occurs in fine fiber webs wherever they occur. Figure 4. It took much subsequent research and weeks of phone conversations and visits by neuroscience friends Clint Woolsey and Wade Marshall to witness demonstrations in my laboratory to convince them — and me — that the precentral cortex is actually a sensory cortex for intentional action, not just an efferent path to muscles from the brain.
Contrast Kandell's statement with another, made repeatedly over the decades by Ted Bullock :. Another common misconception is that the Fourier transformation is globally spread across the entire brain cortex. From the outset in the early s when Pribram proposed the theory, he noted that the spread function as it is appropriately called is limited to a receptive field of an individual neuron in a cortical sensory system — and he actually thought that this was a serious problem for the theory until it was shown by radio-astronomers that such limited regions could be patched together to encompass large regions of observations.
Despite these precise early descriptions, psychophysicists and others in the scientific community spent much time and effort to show that a global Fourier transformation would not work to explain sensory function.
The third common misconception regarding holography and holonomy is that these processes deal with waves. Waves occur in space and in time. The Fourier transformation deals with the intersections among waves, their interference patterns created by differences among their phases.
The amplitudes of these intersections are Fourier coefficients, discrete numbers that are used for computation. These numbers are useful in statistical calculations.
Convertibility raises the question of the value of having multiple mathematical representations of data. A final common misconception that needs to be dealt with, is that all memory storage is holonomic holographic. This misconception stems from juxtaposing memory storage to memory retrieval.
However, in order for retrieval to occur, the memory must be stored in such a way that it can become retrieved. In other words, retrieval is dependent on storing a code. The retrieval process, the encoding, is stored in the brain's circuitry. We can, therefore, distinguish a deep holonomic store which can be content addressable from a surface pattern such as naming of stored circuitry.
Thus the deep dis-membered holonomic store can be re-membered. This attribute has endeared the concept to humanists and some philosophers and scientists. However, many of these proponents of a holistic view conflate two very different forms of holism. This relation between cause and effect has served well as the coin of much of current science and the philosophy of science.
My hope has been that as scientists begin to understand and accept the validity of holonomic processes as truly scientific, this understanding will help resolve the current estrangement between the sciences and the humanities, and between sophisticated pursuits of science and sophisticated pursuits of religion. Bullock T. Fourier J. Gabor, D. Hubel D. Journal of Physiology Kandel, E.
Norton and Co. Kuffler, S. Neurophysiology 16 Perkel, D. Brain Research, , Pribram, K. Rall, W.
Karl H. Pribram
Holonomic brain theory is a branch of neuroscience investigating the idea that human consciousness is formed by quantum effects in or between brain cells. This is opposed by traditional neuroscience, which investigates the brain's behavior by looking at patterns of neurons and the surrounding chemistry, and which assumes that any quantum effects will not be significant at this scale. The entire field of quantum consciousness is often criticized as pseudoscience, as detailed on the main article thereof. This specific theory of quantum consciousness was developed by neuroscientist Karl Pribram initially in collaboration with physicist David Bohm. It describes human cognition by modeling the brain as a holographic storage network.
Holonomic brain theory
Karl H. Board-certified as a neurosurgeon , Pribram did pioneering work on the definition of the limbic system , the relationship of the frontal cortex to the limbic system, the sensory-specific "association" cortex of the parietal and temporal lobes , and the classical motor cortex of the human brain. He was professor at Yale University for ten years and at Stanford University for thirty years. To the general public, Pribram is best known for his development of the holonomic brain model of cognitive function and his contribution to ongoing neurological research into memory, emotion, motivation and consciousness. He was married to American author Katherine Neville.