Time and Place

In the parable of dimensions, I have described a reality in which intelligence can be supported in multiple dimensionalities. The lower dimensional realities interlace ours. They presumably have a different continuum of time, and a different metric of near and far. However, they are not disassociated completely from our reality. We need their components to become more dimensional, and they require our cooperation. While this is anthropomorphic, a more precise formulation would relate these as principles of energy and entropy (a mathematical statement of a system's orderliness). I simply haven't succeeded in constructing that formulation.

But I am bedeviled by conundrums that appear to be, at least in principle, resolvable under the assumption that these entities "work" (either in the psychological or physical sense) with us to move us along. These experiences manifest on a scale that appears to violate the principles of causality and locality that underlie our current understanding of physics.

Science has struggled with a narrow aspect of this problem in the theory of quantum mechanics. The theoretical concept of quantum entanglement has elicited a great deal of speculation over the last fifty years. Recent work in this area has led to an interest in quantum computing, and truly "cosmic" speculation regarding "alternate" or "parallel" universes. While intellectually stimulating, my interpretation of these theories is that they indicate that the theorists have an under-constrained solution space.

The most mundane of my conundrums is memory. As I was going through high school and college, the techniques necessary to map and analyze brain function were just being developed. The speculation regarding the mechanism of memory had an enticing variety. Those studying primitive neural systems believed that memories are encoded in timing cycles in the neural connections. Others believed that the neural connections encoded a form of predicate logic, with excitation and suppression functions encoded by different types of synaptic connections. Those structures could presumably encode information, just as a computer memory does. Still other researchers considered the possibility that memories were encoded in protein or nucleotide structures in the cell body itself.

Recent work on the structure of the neocortex has determined that it is capable of formulating very sophisticated decision processes on our sensory inputs. The publisher of that work, the Redwood Neuroscience Institute, headed by Jeff Hawkins, postulates that the decision processes are based upon predictions from memories stored in the neocortex. However, I am not aware that they have identified the specific morphological changes that encode memories.

What is intriguing about the structure of the neocortex is a redundancy in the sensory processing layers. The neocortex has roughly six layers of cells. Layers two and three, for some reason, are redundant. The same types of cells lie in both layers, and they are densely interconnected.

I do not believe that memories are coded in the brain. My prejudice is that one layer is a sensory input layer, and the other is a temporal resonance layer. When we take in sensory input, the resonance layer looks into the past to find similar experiences, and draws upon past outcomes to formulate a plan of action for the present.