17 December 2009

Getting a "Feel" for Brain Codes

Conscious awareness and memories are "coded" by the brain. Understanding the brain's code will open the door to powerful new technologies of virtual reality, education, and of course interrogation and indoctrination. Anyone who wants to face the future with a clear mind of his own making, must understand these rapidly unfolding discoveries. The study in question at the Medical College of Georgia was performed on mice using classical behavioural conditioning techniques to create a unique and artificial memory that could be identified and elicited on command.
In the memory center of the brain, they used 128 electrodes capable of monitoring a handful of neurons each to simultaneously record the conversations of 200 to 300 neurons as mice learned to associate a certain tone with a mild foot shock 20 seconds later.

A computational algorithm translated the neuronal chatter into a discernable and dynamic activity pattern that provided scientists a trace or picture of what the memory looked like as it was formed and recalled.

"By listening to the neuronal activity we were able to decipher the real-time dynamic pattern and the meaning of those conversations so this is really satisfying," said Dr. Tsien, the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Cognitive and Systems Neurobiology.

The trace changed slightly each time it was recalled -- likely as the mood or situation of the rodent changed -- but still remained recognizable as a specific memory.

The scientists later correlated retrieval of the memory with the mice's actions, such as freezing upon hearing the tone or returning to the chamber where the foot shock occurred. They found the traces tightly correlated with memory scores: the mice that had lower scores predictably had a fainter trace and those with stronger traces had better behavioral performance, such as freezing in anticipation of a shock. "At the behavioral level he is just frozen, but with this technique of decoding the real-time memory, it will tell you exactly what he is thinking," Dr. Tsien said. _SD
The memory in question is a painful one, and it itself is composed of multiple component parts. What the scientists are attempting to do is to create a "Rosetta Stone" of memory and consciousness.

With humans, this process should be easier (and even faster), using subjective, real-time recall. Nerve network probes of finer resolution are needed, capable of monitoring the entire cortex. Multi-modal observations will capture a richer array of the phenomenon of conscious and unconscious memory.

Technological and ethical constraints remain, but the theoretical framework of the research seems to be growing clearer for some neuroscientists at least.

Within the Al Fin Research Institutes, a great deal of wrangling has gone on between Al Fin Neuroscientists, Al Fin Cognitive Scientists, and Al Fin Engineers on this very question. But Al Fin himself has been quite clear on this issue all along: consciousness is not algorithmic. It is rhythmic, with multiple harmonies and counterpoints. The more types of mental images involved, and the more deeply suffused with emotional tonal shading, the more memorable and intensely experienced.

Recognising and categorising simple memories and sensations / perceptions is a necessary first step. Learning this code is a challenge that holds a large prize. The politician who reaches the tape first may be in place to become "world emperor for life," if he plays his cards right.

The rest of us just need to understand the direction big money and big power is tending. Our natural and acquired "contrarian instincts" will serve us well as long as we stay informed and aware.

More:  Interesting article on synesthesia, a "natural form of augmented reality" .

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Blogger kurt9 said...

But Al Fin himself has been quite clear on this issue all along: consciousness is not algorithmic. It is rhythmic, with multiple harmonies and counterpoints.

I think so. I best remember events based on the music that I was listening to at the time. I listen to a certain song that I liked, say, in summer of '95 and all of the memories of that time come flooding back into my mind. I have always encoded much of my life experiences in the music that I listened to at the time of those experiences.

Voices, too. I never forget a voice. Someone I have not talked to for 10 years can call me on the phone and I instantly recognize their voice.

Thursday, 17 December, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...


There have been some good results in setting academic material to rap rhythms. It helps some children learn "obscure" material better.

Rhythms relate to rhythmic oscillations, which are an important basis for consciousness, learning and memory.

It is likely true that rhythmic music probably has a lot more power to boost learning than has been utilised to this point.

Thursday, 17 December, 2009  

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