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Where Do Thoughts Come From?

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
Can You Imagine 4 Things?

Imagine 4 things to perceive thoughts as material phenomena. Imagine that: The brain is able to make fine differentiations between objects and events by evaluating combinatorial memories in axon hillocks. The structure of the brain enables end to end axon hillock messaging in just 20 milliseconds. Digital combinations enable an astronomically large neural memory. These pages explain how an intuition algorithm enables the mind to instantly extract logical answers from such massive neural memories. In summary, when you imagine that 100 billion neurons speak a common language to each other within 20 milliseconds, store astronomical memories and can find logical solutions to problems, then thoughts appear as a component of a pattern recognition process.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?

What Are Thoughts?

Thoughts "emerge" from the claustrum.  Imagine that the nervous system does not compute, but recognizes patterns. That imagination is now supported by the most recent scientific findings regarding thoughts. Thoughts are the final pattern recognition firing patterns on a real time “screen,” perceived by conscious awareness.  While the impulses of one hundred billion neurons power the nervous system, current research points to a single organ, the claustrum, which acts as a “conductor,” which coordinates the highest cortical levels of the system. Thoughts "emerge into subjective experience" from the combinatorial firing patterns on the claustrum screen. 

The mechanisms, which manage autonomous processes are not thoughts. The motor neuron impulses, which enable you to ride a bike, or drive a car are not thoughts. The neural processes, which identify an odor, a pencil on your table, or a word on this page are not thoughts. Nature has hidden numerous such processes from conscious awareness. Thoughts reach conscious awareness. Sensory perceptions, the recognition and recall of significant events, the experience of emotions and perception of the activities of the system, the posing of queries to the mind and perception of the results of mental search processes reach conscious awareness. These are thoughts. Science reports that nature has designed the claustrum to coordinate the outputs of various cortical regions into a single “thought orchestra.”

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
Is There A Ghost In The Machine?
Just like your visual experience of the sunset, the claustrum provides the current real time view of the system to all relevant regions of your brain. The nervous system is structured to recognize both objects like scissors and living intelligences like barking dogs.  It recognizes an "I."  The "I" has a three dimensional view of the world, makes decisions and experiences life.  An accurate geographic locator in the nervous  system gives the "I" a physical location - at the focal point of vision.  This "I" sits behind our eyes and in front of the back of our heads.

In  addition, the nervous system also locates the positions of our arms and legs relative to such an "I."  Muscles, tendons, joints, and the inner ear contain proprioceptors, (stretch receptors), that provide this information. The brain concludes that "I" is a physical entity with a mysterious perception of the world. We call that consciousness.   But, this consciousness, as experienced by us,  is merely a claustrum interpretation of combinatorial codes.  "I" recognizes smells through codes.  An independent "I," a ghost in the machine, is no more real than an "I" in a thermostat.

  • The claustrum enables the cross model matching of simultaneous evaluations from various regions of the brain.
  • The claustrum has been related to the "switching off" of conscious thoughts.
  • The organ has access to the "final reports" of the mind.
  • The mind recognizes patterns through combinatorial coding.
  • Progressive pattern recognition processes data from sensory inputs to recognition of events, the formation of emotional strategies and finally, to motor outputs.
  • The claustrum inhibits viewpoints, which do not match global perceptions.
  • Pattern recognition enables combinatorial arrays to represent complex concepts.
  • Mirror neurons enable the understanding of thoughts of other people.
  • A range of emotions represent wide interpretations of the world in the context o one's goals.
  • Meditation enables a level of control of the thoughts, which reach consciousness.
  • Creativity occurs below conscious levels.

Could An Amazing Algorithm Have Stunning Control Over Your Mind?
This is what happens when an engineer researches the mind. Way back in 1989, the writer, an engineer, catalogued how the ELIMINATION approach of an AI Expert System could reveal a way by which the nervous system could store and retrieve astronomically large memories.  That historic insight is central to the six irresistible premises presented in this website. 

Behind the scenes, these premises conceal an eye-opening revelation.  About the incredible speed of intuition.  A physician is aware of thousands of diseases and their related symptoms.  How does he note a symptom and focus on a single disease in less than half a second?  How could he identify Disease X out of 8000 diseases with just a glance?  

First, the total born and learned knowledge available to the doctor could not exist anywhere other than as the stored/retrieved data within the 100 billion neurons in his brain.  The perceptions, sensations, feelings and physical activities of the doctor could only be enabled by the electrical impulses flowing through the axons of those neurons.  The data enabling that process could be stored as digital combinations.

Second, combinatorial decisions of neurons cannot be made by any entity other than the axon hillock, which decides the axonal output of each neuron.  The hillock receives hundreds of inputs from other neurons.  Each hillock makes the pivotal neuronal decision about received inputs within 5 milliseconds.  A
xon hillocks could be storing digital combinations.  It could be adding each new incoming digital combination to its memory store.  The hillock could fire impulses, if it matched a stored combination. If not, it could inhibit further impulses.  Using stored digital data to make decisions about incoming messages could make the axon hillocks intelligent.

Third, combinations are reported to enable a powerful coding mode for axon hillocks.  Olfactory combinatorial data is known (Nobel Prize 2004) to store memories for millions of smells.  Each one of 100 billion axon hillocks have around a 1000 links  to other neurons.  The hillocks can mathematically store more combinations than there are stars in the sky. Each new digital combination could be adding a new relationship link.  In this infinite store, specific axon hillocks could be storing all the symptom = disease (S=D) links known to the doctor as digital combinations.

Fourth, instant communication is possible in the nervous system.  Within five steps, information in one hillock can reach all other relevant neurons.  Just 20 Ms for global awareness.  Within the instant the doctor observes a symptom, 
feedback and feed forward links could inform every S=D link of the presence of the symptom. Only the S=D link of Disease X could be recalling the combination and recognizing the symptom.

Fifth, on not recognizing the symptom, all other S=D hillocks could be instantly inhibiting their impulses. The S=D links of Disease X could be continuing to fire. Those firing S=D link would be recalling past complaints, treatments and signs of Disease X, confirming the diagnosis.  This could be enabling axon hillocks to identify Disease X out of 8000 in milliseconds.  Eliminating improbable (unrecognized) prospects to arrive at a possible (recognized in the past) solution powers the powerful inductive logic of the mind!

Worldwide interest in this website acknowledges its rationale. Not metaphysical theories, but processing of digital memories in axon hillocks could be explaining innumerable mysteries of the mind.  Over three decades, this website has been assembling more and more evidence of the manipulation of emotional and physical behaviors by narrowly focused digital pattern recognition.  It has also received over 2 million page views from over 150 countries.

Where Do Thoughts Come From? 
Where Do Nerve Impulses Become Thoughts?

But, science has managed to capture the mechanisms at the critical point where nerve impulses become thoughts. Objects or events in the real world have many attributes, including color, shape, distance, velocity, smell, sound and feel. A PET study by Hadjikhani revealed the involvement of the claustrum in cross-model matching, in tasks that require the simultaneous evaluation of information from more than one sensory domain. Without this structure, the subject may still be able to respond to simple, isolated or to highly familiar stimuli, but not to complex or unfamiliar ones. The claustrum appears to enable the conscious experience, where these objects and events are perceived in an integrated manner and not as isolated attributes. The claustrum appears to be the region, which is a “dashboard,” which displays your thoughts.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
Can Thoughts Be Switched On And Off?

The claustrum has also been linked to the “switching on” of thoughts. Researchers led by Mohamad Koubeissi at the George Washington University were using deep brain electrodes to record signals to identify the originating regions of epileptic seizures for a patient. When they applied high frequency electrical impulses to the claustrum for the patient, the subject lost consciousness. She stopped reading and stared blankly into space. She failed to respond to auditory or visual commands and her breathing slowed. As soon as the stimulation stopped, she immediately regained consciousness with no memory of the event. The stimulation had inhibited activities in the claustrum and “switched off” conscious thoughts.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
Is The Claustrum Strategically Linked?

The claustrum is a thin, irregular, sheet-like neuronal structure hidden beneath the inner surface of the neocortex. It has feedback and feedforward links to the prefrontal cortex, the motor cortex, the cingulate cortex, the visual cortical regions, the temporal cortices, parietooccipital and posterior parietal cortex, the frontoparietal operculum, somatosensory areas, prepiriform olfactory cortex, the hippocampus and the amygdala. Effectively, the claustrum has access to the “final reports” from important regions of the mind, which enter conscious awareness. This implies that specific pipelines carry these “thoughts reports” to conscious awareness.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
What Is Combinatorial Coding?

Thought reports are combinatorial firing patterns in the output pipelines from various neural regions. In 1999, researchers uncovered combinatorial coding (Nobel Prize 2004), which can transmit virtually infinite volumes of data from the olfactory region. They found that a particular smell was recognized, when specific neuron receptor combinations fired. The olfactory system used an "alphabet" (A to Z) of receptors to identify a specific smell. Combinations of receptors (ABD, ABP, or XYZ), fired to indicate different smells. Subtle chemical differences caused distinct combinations to fire.

By remembering combinations, the olfactory bulb could use a small number of receptor types, (A to Z), to identify millions of odors (the infinite vocabulary of A to Z combinations). Even slight changes in chemical structure activated different combinations of receptors. Thus, octanol smelled like oranges, while the similar compound octanoic acid smelled like sweat. The combinatorial patterns on a television screen enables us to identify an infinite number of moving images. Similar firing by a few thousand nerve fibers in the olfactory system represent the recognition of trillions of odors.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
How Are Sensory Perceptions Converted To Nerve Signals?

Pattern recognition enables a hierarchy of neural regions to identify objects and events at higher and higher levels of complexity. The process begins when numerous receptors in the body convert sound, light, taste, smell and touch into biochemical and electrical signals. Typically, when an odorant molecule locks on to an odor receptor, calcium channels in the membranes of the nerves open and calcium ions pour inside, generating the electrical charge of a nerve signal. Such signals are carried by peripheral nerves to the central nervous system.

Chemoreceptors in the tongue report taste. Other receptors are massed together to form sense organs such as the eye and the ear. Chemicals from damaged tissue cause nociceptors to fire and report pain. Their signals are routed to the primary areas of the cortex. The signals then flow to the secondary areas, which integrate the signal combinations from the other half of the body. Such integration handles binocular vision and stereophonic sound. The combined signals travel to the association regions, which identify objects and events.

Where Do Thoughts Come From? 
How Are Combinatorial Signals Recognized?

The combinatorial messages from the somesthetic association region enable you to consciously recognize a pair of scissors by its feel, with your eyes closed. If this region is damaged, you will be able to feel the scissors, but you will not be able identify it. The brain has many specialized regions, which integrate information. As an example, a visual region integrates the multiple views of a rabbit behind a picket fence into the perception of a single rabbit, when those “slices of the rabbit” appear to move in unison. Just as the olfactory region identifies odors, this region visually integrates moving objects.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
Do Motor Controls Become Thoughts?

Lower level pattern recognition processes, which identify an odor, or a word on a page are not thoughts. Many processes of the body, including unconscious body movements and digestive processes are not thoughts. The activities of the nervous system, which manage motor control do not fire in the claustrum. The person is said to carry on in his stride, without a thought. Riding a cycle, or the intention to steer the bike does not by itself produce thoughts. But proprioceptive regions report on the position and movement of limbs. You can have thoughts about your posture or of the ideal strokes in tennis, or golf.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
Does Inhibition Assist Recognition?

The recognition of sensory patterns bring information in one group of pipelines to the claustrum. There are other pipelines to the region from functional brain regions, including event recognition and emotions. Thoughts occur at the highest “dashboard” level, where the claustrum inhibit those patterns, which are not contextually logical to create a rationalized whole. The claustrum may inhibit conflicting viewpoints, which do not match the final objects or events recognized by the system. At this level, the global perceptions of the system are integrated into conscious thoughts.

Where Do Thoughts Come From? 
Is There Anything Combinatorial Codes Cannot Represent?

Thoughts can represent an idea, notion, line of thinking, belief, concept, conception, conviction, opinion, view, impression, image, perception, mental picture; assumption, presumption, hypothesis, theory, supposition, postulation, abstraction, apprehension, understanding, conceptualization; feeling, funny feeling, suspicion, sneaking suspicion, hunch. On seeing a person, the mind brings contextual information into the claustrum. A thought occurs that the person is immensely rich. These are higher level pattern recognition results.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
What Are Mirror Neurons?

Thoughts can be an awareness of the feelings of others. Pattern recognition enables you to experience the feelings of other people. The mirror neuron circuits enables the brain to identify the activities of others and then to fire the nerve signals required to experience similar feelings. These neurons operate within the anterior insula and the inferior frontal cortex. Researchers noted that specific neurons in this region fire when a monkey reaches for a peanut, pulls a lever, or pushes a door. Iaccomo Rizzolati discovered that neurons in the same regions also fire, when the monkey watches another monkey perform similar actions. Mirror neurons fire pain signals when a subject observes another person being pricked by a needle. To create conscious awareness, these circuits also fire at the claustrum level.

Where Do Thoughts Come From? 
How Does Despair Work?

Thoughts trigger behaviors and emotions at the highest level of pattern recognition. When the natural curiosity of your mind fails to discover the goal of your current activity, a sense of frustration enters yor thoughts. When the same curiosity fails to discover your role in the grand purpose of the cosmos, the heightened frustration creates despair and dissatisfaction. An existential despair intensifies the ongoing dissatisfaction with the petty successes of one's pointless life. This state of the nervous system uses every context to dump negative perceptions into your thoughts.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
How Does The Nervous System Make You Shy?

A thought can make a person feel breathless. It can fill her with anticipation, or fear. If you are a shy person, apprehension tenses your body and recalls memories of your past failures in social gatherings. Your mirror neurons identify the thoughts of others. They absorb their facial expressions of hostility, pity, or contempt. Lacking “small talk,” you feel tongue tied and awkward and fear being a “wet blanket.” Your system responds by freezing. In the meanwhile, your rational prefrontal brain sends requests. “Say something. Anything!” A feeling of desperation enters your thoughts.

Where Do Thoughts Come From? 
What Triggers Jealousy & Envy?

The emotions of envy and jealousy are not conscious thoughts. They are triggered through the recognition of the patterns of human behavior. The prospect of failure in achieving a desired goal triggers jealousy. Career growth, a partner's love, or a mother's undivided attention are usually the threatened goals. Jealousy brings painful thoughts of the competitor's actions. Envy originates from regret, leading to anger, over one's powerlessness to get an alluring asset owned by a perceived equal. Envy triggers angry thoughts.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
How Is Sadness Triggered?

Sadness is an emotion, a sense of irreparable loss, which is strengthened by thoughts of “what might have been.” A major disappointment make a person abandon his dreams and ambitions. The system considers such thoughts impossible and inhibits them. Such thought patterns then stop firing in the claustrum. The thoughts are abandoned. When a person faces a crisis and fear signals from the amygdala send many disturbing thought patterns to the claustrum, making the person feel “awful.”

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
How Does Attention Work?

The act of paying attention brings information to the claustrum. Maunsell had studied neural signals in the visual area of the cortex of monkeys, when viewing a swarm of dots on a computer screen. He was able to correlate the firing of specific neurons, with recognition of the movement of specific dots. The focus of attention is a PFR activity. When the animal focused on just one of the dots, the directed attention caused the neurons that signaled its motion to fire more strongly. At the same time, neural signals related to other dots were attenuated. Evidently, the stronger signals in the claustrum brought the view of a particular dot into the conscious awareness of the monkey. The act of paying attention produces a conscious thought. Just pay attention to your toe and you can sense the movement of your toe.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
How Does Meditation Work?

When you pay attention to your feelings and sensations, the patterns in the claustrum reflect them. Conscious awareness also stills unrelated neural activity. Self awareness is the process of paying attention to your feelings and sensations. The intense activity in the amygdalae, which causes painful emotional thoughts can be reduced through attention. Columbia University researchers observed that when fear stimuli was perceived consciously, the pre frontal regions acted to dampen down amygdalae activity. Self awareness acts to shut down needless distress and still thoughts. In meditation, a person keeps reciting a single word for long periods. In this case, mental activity reduces and several parallel lines of vague and distressing thoughts stop firing in the claustrum. The person achieves a sense of peace.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?
How Do Thoughts Assist Creativity?

On facing a problem, the prefrontal regions and the limbic system search for solutions. The claustrum reflects patterns concerning possible courses of action as well as the troubling results of actions which could lead only to more problems. The person may decide to sleep on a problem and later, the brain discovers a solution and the claustrum reflects the “Aha” feeling of discovering a solution. As a person mulls over a design problem, the brain discovers a solution and it pops into view in the claustrum.

This page was updated on 08.10.2018.

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