THOUGHT AND THE GEOMETRY OF THE BRAIN
This very important article was spotted and shared by J.T., with our deep thanks, because one of the things we like to speculate on this site and in our members' vidchats is the relationship between the mind, and the brain, or if you will between consciousness and the brain. This particular article is extremely noteworthy, and has provoked at least two distinct tracks of "high octane speculation," and I am confident it will elicit even more from the readers of this website. Here's the article:
As is usual when we refer to long papers, for purposes of the "high octane speculation discussion" I want to focus attention on the abstract, and note very carefully what it says:
The anatomy of the brain necessarily constrains its function, but precisely how remains unclear. The classical and dominant paradigm in neuroscience is that neuronal dynamics are driven by interactions between discrete, functionally specialized cell populations connected by a complex array of axonal fbres1–3. However, predictions from neural field theory, an established mathematical framework for modelling large-scale brain activity4–6 suggest that the geometry of the brain may represent a more fundamental constraint on dynamics than complex interregional connectivity7,8. Here, we confirm these theoretical predictions by analysing human magnetic resonance imaging data acquired under spontaneous and diverse task-evoked conditions. Specifically, we show that cortical and subcortical activity can be parsimoniously understood as resulting from excitations of fundamental, resonant modes of the brain’s geometry (that is, its shape) rather than from modes of complex interregional connectivity, as classically assumed. We then use these geometric modes to show that task-evoked activations across over 10,000 brain maps are not confined to focal areas, as widely believed, but instead excite brain-wide modes with wavelengths spanning over 60 mm. Finally, we confirm predictions that the close link between geometry and function is explained by a dominant role for wave-like activity, showing that wave dynamics can reproduce numerous canonical spatiotemporal properties of spontaneous and evoked recordings. Our findings challenge prevailing views and identify a previously underappreciated role of geometry in shaping function, as predicted by a unifying and physically principled model of brain-wide dynamics. (Italicized and boldface emphases added_
In other words, the "standard" model of the brain and its relationship to thought and consciousness is an essentially materialistic one: that these things emerge as a result of the "massive interconnectivity" of neurons and synapses in the brain. These in turn are switches or signals dependent on electro-chemical processes, &c &c. The shape of the brain, with its discrete regions - if I may be permitted the term, the topology of the brain - is not a primary factor. But what the study is averring is that almost the reverse would appear to be true: there is a "neurological field" that one rather suspects strongly resembles biologist Rupert Sheldrake's "morphogenic field", and that this field is the result of the overall geometry of the brain: not merely its hemispheres and lobes, but the interaction of these with the complex of neurons and synapses. These create waveforms, and like all waves, these wave forms engender an entire harmonic series unique to that underlying fundamental wave form (a feature which dovetails rather nicely with my recent speculations about time and events as themselves being harmonic phenomena).
So we come to the "two tracks" of today's "high octane speculation." Note that one implication of this approach is that it would appear that thought is both within and outside of the physical brain, since to reproduce the waveform template itself would appear to result in the same phenomenon as reproducing the actual brain that originally produced the wave form. There's a "both-andness" implied by the statements of the abstract that are perhaps best illustrated by an analogy to Einsteinian general relativity, wherein a very large mass can produce an actual geometrical distortion of the lattice of space-time. But the theory says nothing about the priority of mass to space, therefore, its is also possible to produce a geometrical distortion similar to that produced by a large mass, and to use that distortion to "travel". As far as the theory is concerned, the "space warp" and the "large mass" can each produce the effect of the other.
So we come to the first track of high octane speculation: it may be possible to induce "particular thought wave-forms" by producing the magnetic resonance fields associated with them. We've already encountered such concepts (and technologies!) with the "electroencephalographic dictionary" that I mentioned in my Lulu book, Microcosm and Medium. But once one has said a magnetic resonance, one can imagine planetary-wide applications of a technology that otherwise, like the electroencephalographic dictionary, remains confined to the field of interference generated by multi-wave mixing.
This opens up the second track of high octane speculation: if one is dealing with a phenomenon of magnetic resonance, then this could very easily apply to plasmas (remember Dr. Ronald Richter and his rotation of plasma with the LaMore precession frequency? Magnetic containment of hot fusion plasmas, &c?). And once we've said that, then literally, thought and consciousness may be much much vaster than is almost conceivably imaginable.
And Elon Musk wants to play with that fire by connecting it with his neural net???
No thanks, Elon.
See you on the flip side...
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