How Does The Brain Remember?

How does the brain remember the 9/11, falling New York towers? Science has discovered many links to the mystery of human memory. This website suggests that those links point to a nerve cell memory for the combinatorial firing (CF) patterns exchanged between billions of cells in the network. The existence of the CF phenomenon has been confirmed by science in the case of the olfactory system (Nobel Prize 2004). The idea is that CF memories cause a neuron to fire when it receives signals at the indicated combination of its dendrites.

This website suggests that the mind does not compute. It recognizes patterns. In the normal course, the pre-frontal regions (PFR) sense a conscious event, when a group of sensory neurons fire. The CF memories of the 9/11 incident were stored by an organ called the hippocampus in the space/time/emotions context in the extensive sensory regions of the brain. Subsequently, when the sensory neurons sense those contextual CF patterns of 9/11, they fire to cause PFR to consciously recall the incident. CF patterns can have infinite data storage capacity. Only a massive base of knowledge can reasonably explain the astonishing brilliance of human intelligence.

CF codes can store an infinite diversity of microscopic pattern recognition details. The mind is able to recognize each one of trillions of rearrangements of combinatorial pixels - the image of a king, or of this page. CF patterns on a TV screen can represent all the possible images in the cosmos. Human intelligence is achieved through the processing of real time CF data about every category of the living experience between functional neural modules. Conscious experience occurs, when complex CF patterns are projected on the claustrum, believed to be the "consciousness screen" for the PFR.

  • CF codes can store astronomically large memories.
  • Edvard Moser reports that event memories are stored in extensive regions of the brain.
  • Parallel projections in the nervous system indicates the use of CF pattterns for communication in the nervous system.
  • Pixel specific "barrels' exist all over the cortex.
  • Cortical circuits indicate a direct recording channel and a broadcasting channel.
  • The brain has declarative memories, working memories, implicit memories and procedural memories.
  • LTP, neural plasticity and neuronal reverberation support memories.
  • The hippocampus records declarative memories through LTP and neuronal reverberation.
  • Place cells, head direction cells, grid cells, and border cells record the space time context of events.

How Does The Brain Remember -Recognition of Combinations
CF codes were discovered to be applied for hundreds of millions of years by the olfactory system (Nobel Prize 2004) for the instant identification of odors. Leslie Vosshall reports that, in her lab, ordinary volunteers, (not wine tasters or perfumers), could clearly distinguish between different combinations of 128 odor molecules, indicating an average human ability to differentiate between 1 trillion smells. CF pattern recognition enables people to remember and recognize any one of 10,000 images, shown to them at one second intervals.

CF memories can be virtually infinite. A neuron with just 100 dendrites can receive an infinity of combinatorial messages. It can accept 1, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 unique CF patterns! The human visual system has not 100, but millions of individual pixels, which can represent more combinations than the stars in the sky. The concept that such CF memories support brain functions is also confirmed by the makeup of many of its structures and mechanisms.

How Does The Brain Remember –Event Memories
Innumerable regions of the brain participate in the recall of any memory. Edvard Moser reported, in 2011, that memories are stored in different regions of the brain and that a consolidated memory develops in about 125 milliseconds. He monitored different parts of a rat's brain as it explored its neighborhood. Different lighting schemes in a single box tricked the rat into believing it was in different neighborhoods. Distinctly different memory locations became activated in the rat's brain in each visualized location.

The rat instantly adjusted to a new environment indicated by a different lighting scheme by recalling a different memory from a different part of the brain. Moser discovered that each memory was an integral whole for the 125 millisecond period. When the environment changed, the brain of the rat switched the memory to recollect details of a new background. There was no confusion between the memory location barrels in the rat's brain, when the changed environment was “completely different.”

How Does The Brain Remember -Parallel Projections
A CF pattern is a precise geographic arrangement, which can be transmitted through a parallel projection of nerve fibers. Consider the messages carried by a bundle of glass fibers. If each fiber carries an individual message, the relative location of the fibers will be irrelevant. But suppose each fiber carries one pixel of a black and white picture. In this case, any change in the relative positions of the fibers between the sending and receiving ends will lose the transmitted "picture" - the CF pattern. If the objective is to transmit a CF pattern, the fibers have to be projected in parallel. Parallel projections are extensively present in the nervous system.

Throughout their growth, the axons of nerve cells extend and map on to specific target regions in parallel projections. Each area of the somato-sensory cortex is proportionally linked to the number of nerve endings in the corresponding part of the body. Touch sensory cells in your fingertip have identical proximity relationships when they finally report touch to the cortex. Similar parallel projections exist in numerous other regions. Parallel projections are clear evidence of CF communications in the nervous system.

How Does The Brain Remember -Pixel Specific Barrels
CF patterns can be accurately projected on screens. Science reports that visual images travel in parallel projections from your eyes to be mapped exactly as seen, in your visual cortex. Visual images are received and recalled from the same regions of the visual cortex. Visual receptors send signals of each pixel of light to cells in the visual cortex.

Each pixel is recorded by a vertical barrel of thousands of nerve cells within a diameter of 200 to 500 microns, extending through all layers of the cortex. Each barrel is linked by a single axon which transmits that pixel to the cortex. Thousands of neurons in it act together, with connected timings, when a stimulus is received from its receptor field. These vertical barrels represent the pixel specific component of a CF pattern, which is further interpreted by other regions of the cortex.

Above and beyond simple pictures, CF patterns can precisely categorize all experiences, including the infinite variations of the color, texture, outlines and edges of a seen object. The visual system has dedicated functional groups of over 30 processing centers, which finally dispatch a sophisticated CF interpretation of a perceived object to the PFR - a functional intelligence. A rabbit behind a picket fence is not seen as the slices of a rabbit, but as a whole animal. Finally, a complex CF pattern received by the PFR enables you to recall an image and "know" that it is a rabbit.

How Does The Brain Remember –Space/Time/Emotions Broadcast
Recallable memories are called declarative memories. Such memories are generally stored in the context of geographic and emotional details. At any moment in time, you are present in a geographic context and your mind is dominated by a single group of emotions. An intuitive decision making process selects the current emotion. If you are angry, you remember the wrongs committed by your opponent. If you are fearful, you remember the previous instances, where you failed. Your motor responses also respond to your emotions. The CF geographic and emotional patterns recall your memories and control your actions.

The vertical barrels in the outer layers of the cortex have access to the emotion signals from the limbic system and to the space/time relationship signals recorded by the hippocampus. These layers have both radial and parallel fibers. Radiating downwards from the cortex are millions of fibers which directly link the Barrels through the thalamus to all sensory and motor functions. This link is called the "specific link". The cortex also had a surface layer which runs a thick network of fibers parallel to the surface. These parallel fibers are also linked to the thalamus.

The parallel link was recognized when it was discovered that stimulation of the "non-specific nuclei" of the thalamus led to wide-spread "recruiting activity" in the outer layers of the cortex. The CF patterns of context and the the current emotion are "broadcast" through the "non-specific nuclei" in the outer layers of the cortex. Those barrels, which recognize a specific contextual signal, fire to recall an image, or to trigger a motor response. That is how the brain remembers and acts.

How Does The Brain Remember –Types Of CF Memories
Apart from declarative memories, the mind has other types of memories. It has working memories, implicit memories and procedural memories. Working memories enable the focus of attention and are available only for brief periods. Implicit memories operate in subconscious regions and are not available for recall. Procedural memories directly empower the motor system to play a musical instrument, or to ride a bike. Such memories are acquired through practice and cannot be consciously recalled. But, they are available as a remembered ability. Only declarative memories are available for conscious recall.

How Does The Brain Remember –Registration Of CF Memories
The nervous system has several methods for storing CF memories in the nerve cells. Long term potentiation (LTP) enables neurons to become sensitive to a single contextual signal. A neuron may also grow new dendrites (neural plasticity), increasing accessibility to active communication channels. Implicit memories are recorded during the normal exchanges between nerve cells. Repetitive firing, such as during repeated physical exercises save procedural memories.

Working memories and declarative memories store CF signals of the tactile, gustatory, olfactory, spatial, and motor activities produced by the free exploration of novel objects. Such memories are stored by an organ called the hippocampus, through a process of repetitive iteration of CF patterns. This process is called neuronal reverberations, where groups of linked nerve cells fire in rhythm. When the hippocampus signals trigger repetitive firing by the currently active groups of neurons, the precise contextual CF links are stored as CF memories in the active circuits.

How Does The Brain Remember -The Hippocampus
Surgical destruction of the hippocampus caused Henry Gustav Molaison (HM) to lose his ability to remember events, which occurred even a few seconds earlier. But, HM retained memories for events long past. The hippocampus acts to record the "declarative" memories by providing strong space/time book marks for the memories of significant experiences of the mind in the sensory and recognition regions of the cortex.

During REM sleep, the hippocampus replays the context of significant waking experiences. LTP circuits within the organ increase synaptic strength for such links. Neuronal reverberation, where linked nerve cells fire in rhythm, record the CF patterns in all the linked groups of cells. Over many sleep/wake cycles, the organ spreads associative learning to extensive regions of the nervous system.

Researchers at MIT trained rats to run along a circular track for a food reward. Their brain activity was monitored during the task and during sleep. While the animal ran, its brain created a distinctive pattern of neurons firing in the hippocampus. The researchers then examined more than 40 REM episodes recorded while the rats slept. The correlation was so close that the researchers found that as the animal dreamed, they could reconstruct where it would be in the maze if it were awake and whether the animal was dreaming of running or standing still.

Nature has provided a mechanism to replay the space/time context through rapid eye movements during sleep. During sleep, the thalamo-cortical link enables the hippocampus to dispatch the CF signals, which reinforce emotion memories in the vertical barrels of the cortex. Incremental learning continues several nights after memory acquisition due to the progressive recruitment of larger neuronal networks over time. Subsequently, the emotions are recognized by the barrels, which fire to recall sensory memories. Such memories, can recall events in the space/time/emotion context after months and years. With damage to the hippocampus, the nervous system loses its ability to bookmark, store and consolidate its episodic memories.

How Does The Brain Remember -Place Cells
Only precise CF reference links can the recall memories in the vast databases of the mind. The nervous system constantly monitors its current location. The hippocampus uses eye movement and head direction data as an inertial compass to chart geographic movement and position. Visual and sound information triangulate the location. These eye and ear coordinates are mapped by head direction cells, grid cells, and border cells in the regions, which were discovered to contain a neural map of the spatial environment in rats. The firing cells in the arrays lack any spatial topography in the representation. Cells lying next to each may have uncorrelated spatial firing patterns.

The place fields record the place looked at by an animal in four dimensions, including time. The time dimensioned CF signals by the place cells in the hippocampus trace the directions, objectives and movements of an individual in his environment. Such memories may be both for events and experiences as well as for semantic concepts (ideas converted into words and sentences). Damage to the hippocampus causes a loss of this key reference point for episodic memories. All evidence points to pattern recognition by the mind, using CF patterns.

The hippocampus stores memories of your experiences of a lifetime as CF patterns in many regions of the brain. It is a network, which accumulates knowledge and acts intelligently. If these remembered combinatorial patterns were coded into 500 page books, they would occupy cubic miles of space. Your computer has separate programs, which manage word processing and spreadsheet computations, along with all the related data. They are groups of codes, located in different memory locations, which utilize the same circuits. The coded memories contain your experiences over a lifetime. They also contain strategies from battles fought millions of years ago. The vast scope and power of your CF memories manage your life.

This page was last updated on 31-Dec-2013.

JUST THINK.  What happens when you begin to talk?  Your nervous system has picked an emotion. 
It has articulated an idea around it, chosen apt words, arranged them in lexical and grammatical order
 and adjusted the pitch of your voice.  You've no idea what words you wii use. 
Who's actually in charge?  You, or your nervous system?