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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Thursday, 13 October 2011 19:35
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 7 - Imagination & Related Abilities
Network 3 & Mirror Neurons
Perception From the Bottom Up
What Happens if Things Go Wrong
The Mind's Inner Model
NHA Guide to Methods & Technology
The Most Important Bits to Remember
Hacks & Exercices
Notes, References & Answers
All Pages

 

 

Neurohacking Tutorial 7

Imagination & Related Abilities

(Updated: Oct 2011)

 

In these next few tutorials we explore network 3, and we look more closely at how imagination is the basis for perception, empathy, learning, memory and prediction. Far from being the seat of a vague wooly fantasy world, imagination is our main link with reality and the central hub of our intelligence. We'll show you how basic rules of association lead to the emergence of a complex inner model that the mind uses to process everything, how network 3's physiology and mirror neurons allow us to connect the map to the territory, and what hacks and exercises can improve your imagination, perception and learning.

 


Follow the Right Habit

 

If you have practiced well, this tutorial marks your transition from 'basics' in NH to 'intermediate' level. Hopefully you have made a habit of doing things in the right order, and in order to make the best use of this next set of tutorials, you should continue to monitor and control your anxiety levels and use input control diligently to maintain conditions in the green zone for growth & development.

In NH we often look at things on different ‘levels’; concrete (material; physical), abstract (mental; non-physical), and behavioral being the most common -for example we can view any experience according to what networks or functions were involved (concrete anatomy & physiology), what neurotransmitters it produced (concrete neurochemical), what behavior it prompted (concrete behavioral), or how somebody felt about it (abstract emotional). In these next tutorials you should start to recognize where we do this and how these various approches fit together to give you an overall picture of the amazing organisms that we are.

In Tutorial 6 we learned some important pieces of information that will help you to understand the information about imagination and memory.

Firstly about perception:

Concepts are 'bits' of meaning that are already in our memory database in graphic format, whether they were hard wired or have been acquired via experience.

Percepts are 'bits' of information derived from incoming data and translated into graphic format for comparison with database contents for interpretation, categorization and recognition.

Perception relies on the incoming new percepts having enough points of similarity to our known concepts to be associated, categorized and given meaning by imagination.

 

Secondly about learning:

Natural learning is moving from the known into the unknown and safely back again; a process of stretch-relaxation. Learning anything new depends on the unknown thing having enough points of similarity to make sense when compared against what we already know.

If you put this together with the process of perception described above, you will realise that all perception is learning, in a small way. With every bit of input our minds are learning about what has changed, what is changing and what has remained the same in the world around us.

And thirdly a piece of information that is vital in understanding intelligence:

The brain uses the same networks for both abstract and concrete skills. If you put this together with the first two pieces of information you will realise that perception is using the same process as learning, and you may even guess that they share the same network, but would you guess that they rely on the same function -imagination?

That's what this tutorials is going to explore. If you get stuck in the science bits of these next few tutorials, come back to this white rabbit and go over these three connected concepts. They should help you understand the common basics beneath the mind's diverse abilities.

From now on it's more important that you start to understand the links, connections and relationships between things, as well as the basic details about things themselves. Understanding how the machinery of the brain relates to the products and processes of the mind will help you to see the ground rules behind them that in turn lead to our abilities, our behavioral and mental skills; the factors of intelligence.

The mind's processes make a lot more sense when viewed from the bottom up. We can see the more simple underlying themes behind all the complex details. We don't by any means have to know all the details to grasp these ideas, which is a good thing because the mind is a complex, non-linear, dynamic, open chaotic system and knowing ALL the details would be a bit like trying to understand all the details of the weather everywhere in the world at every moment in time!

When we understand the basics, and we have a coherent model for those basics, we can then apply our model to all sorts of situations (like we do to forecast the weather) and gain some understanding of the relationships between things and how the system works.

We don't just mean that you should understand the relationships between networks, by the way, although that's important too. We mean the relationships between reality, the body/brain, the mind, the inner model, imagination, memory and perception. It is in these relationships; in the interactions between things, rather than in the things themselves, that intelligence can be seen to emerge, and these interrelationships are also prime targets in NH.

Understanding the processes of mind (rather than just the brain) is all about knowing these associations and interactions.

Each step of mental processing depends on its own contextual variables; that is why we are all so different. We also have very different levels of processing ability and mental tools in different networks. But reality's ground rules hold for every form of intelligent life and that is why we are all so similar in other ways. We all start off in the womb forming 6 potentially perfect networks, but contextual factors in the real world affect whether they will wither or flourish, develop or regress, right from the start and at every stage along the way.

 

Maps and models

You'll be using your mind to understand and make sense of the mind, of course; an interesting and complex project for it, but not so interesting or so complex as your mind's everyday task of understanding and making sense of the whole of reality, all of its waking time.

Forming an image of what is going on 'out there' happens in a mature brain completely unconsciously in a fraction of a second. We take for granted the results of the seriously complex process of perception, and the mind approaches it in a practical way much as any intelligent being does -by making a model of reality, testing that model against reality, looking at the feedback and fine-tuning it for accuracy, prediction and control.

This is exactly the same process we use as intelligent beings when using a mathematical format to construct the standard model of cosmology, for example. That's how science works. You make a model of what you think is going on, you test it against the real life evidence and you find how accurate it is. If it's good, your predictions based on it will pan out, if it's not good enough, some of it won't fit the facts and you have to fine tune it, getting ever closer to reality itself.

On the human behavioral level, we make models of reality all the time; mathematics is a tool that is useful in making such models and so are computer graphics. It's very surprising that most biopsychology researchers (and AI researchers) haven't figured out that the mind does this too -uses an inner model as a user-interface for computations about reality- because this is the core of all perception and all processing behind learning, memory and interaction.

The mind's model is largely unconscious; that is to say we are not aware of it ordinarily because it's automatic. It uses a graphic format and employs the brain's visual cortex along with mirror neurons to scan what's in “the mind's eye”; and this is a key subprocess of imagination.

We'll be exploring this model during the next few tutorials because it is housed in network 3 and the mind relies on it for all sorts of functions.

 

For You and Against You: Fact versus Fiction

 

Only very recently (2008-2011) have we become able by virtue of developments in technology to scientifically explore imagination as a process and really see what it does. If you can bear that in mind, we'll take a look at the new research and reexamine imagination from the bottom up; you’ll find that this function is not at all what most of us have previously been led to believe. Be prepared for a few surprises!

For You

On your side in understanding imagination is everything you know about reality that is provably true, and your ability to keep an open mind and avoid value judgments unless they are backed by evidence or can be tested.

One side effect of having so much discovery in a field that was previously very slow is that neuroscience is going through a paradigm shift. A lot of what we thought the brain and mind were doing has turned out to be wrong. That means we need to approach these subjects afresh with an open mind and remember that what we have always been taught was true might not be. That shouldn’t be a problem for seasoned neurohackers like yourselves : )

So we have to bust another myth here by explaining that imagination is NOT about fantasy in the same way that nuts and bolts are not about jewellery (although they CAN be used for that). It will help to approach the subject as though you knew nothing, think objectively not subjectively, and try to avoid associating imagination with make-believe at all, while we discuss its main functions.

Let’s start from the “old paradigm” (current public) common definition of “imagination” that you'll still find in dictionaries:

 

“The ability to form mental images or concepts not present to the senses”

 

This has turned out to be almost completely wrong. It's only even slightly right because it states one thing that imagination can do, but in the past researchers mistakenly concluded that this was the ONLY thing it could do.

This wasn't entirely their fault. A morbid fear of fantasy and magical thinking was -and still is- epidemic among front loaders with poor connections between N3/N4; notably Piaget, a mainstream success of his time in developmental psychology, and a whole bunch of other influential scientists whom we won't further distress by naming them. Fear of “magical thinking” is a phobia that particularly freaks frontloaders out, because it triggers panic and violent irrational behavior, and feeling out of control raises anxiety even more.

Because such thinking was known to involve imagination (inevitably, due to the fact that most thinking of all kinds involves the imagination), out went the baby with the bathwater and for a long time researchers steered clear of imagination research if they wanted funding and to keep their teeth, and only recently has it become safer to go there without risking derision covering thinly veiled panic. In the meantime, tech has improved a lot. Consequently a number of recent studies show that imagination is a highly flexible process underlying many functions central to processing. Imagining the future, or a fictional scenario, or what someone else is feeling, depends on much of the same neural architecture and processing that is needed for remembering the past and perceiving and understanding the here and now.

Further exploration has led to the understanding that THE central process at work behind many main factors of intelligence like perception, memory, empathy, decision making, planning, creativity and even intellect and strategy, is imagination, right from the level of initial processing.

Imagination uses stored information (memories) and current input to interpret (perceive) our reality in the here and now, and to predict & direct possible future courses of events. If you want to know how it does all that, just keep reading. 

Against You

There is snapback danger here. Working against you in understanding this will be anything that stereotypes ‘imagination’ as 'fantasy' or “not real” because this is based on the old outdated, limited and false idea of what imagination is and what it can do. How much of this bias you have will depend on the validity of associations in your own memory databases, so the habits we may have to change here are old assumptions or beliefs (especially “what other people think”) about what imagination really is, and if you're a frontloader with a morbid fear of poetry or 'magical thinking' this could be difficult for you and you may have to use anxiety reduction before proceeding. Fear of woo woo can cause us to perceive facts as woo woo where there is actually no woo woo, so watch out for anxiety's dirty tricks and if in doubt, think like Mr Spock.

When someone says “It’s all in your memory”, we imagine the “it” as being some data stored in some actual physical location. Some people may imagine a corresponding brain part, others may think of a network, or maybe a distributed load of blobs here and there around the brain.

But when someone says “it’s all in your imagination” we don’t normally imagine a corresponding brain part; instead we interpret the phrase as meaning “you made it up”, “you are delusional” or “it’s not real”.

This paradigm has to go, because it's nonsense. Imagination is a process, and we are looking here at the process of imagination; not the contents (indeed, there are no 'contents', as you will see). We'll be examining the physiological brain parts involved in the process of imagination here, and they are certainly as solid and real as those dealing with memory, empathy and prediction; in fact they are the same ones. Together, these functions make perception and learning possible.

 

 


 

 

 

Network 3

 

In N3 we discover the physiology of the central seat of imagination, memory and learning.

Q: Where is it?

A: N3 is right in the very middle of your brain towards the rear. Here’s a picture of the brain spread out, so that we can see N3 in a bit more detail:

 

 

Removed from its surrounding hemispheres, the central part of N3 looks rather bizarrely like a lobster! Here it is on its own below:

 

 

N3 includes the most important departments for imagination & memory –the thalamus, the hippocampus and the amygdala. The amygdala (amy) and hippocampus (hippo) are important NH areas and we will look at them more closely in the next tutorial. You will probably want to learn a little about them, especially if you want to use mind machines.

Q: What does it do?

A: Network 3 does loads of things, so in this tutorial we’re just going to explore what it does in relation to imagination. You’ll notice that its central part is symmetrical, and that it has two of several bits –two amygdalae, two hippocampi, two caudate nuclei and so on. Each side handles different parts of the same tasks. The thalamus, hippo and amy do a variety of tasks, so again we’re focusing mainly on their roles in imagination and perception. Because it’s right here where perception takes form and where most learning, memory processing and formation happen. We'll be looking more closely at these three parts in the next tutorial; for now, just get used to where they are; this will help you understand how TMS etc targets these areas.

Network 3 is the place where information incoming from all our senses is collected together and given meaning by imagination as parts of the whole experience we call ‘perception’. From this experience, we decide what's happening, what to do about it, what to explore further and what not to, what needs to be remembered and what isn’t important. So the accuracy of imagination is very important as in facilitating perception it provides our basic onboard picture of what’s going on “out there”.

 


DO IT NOW

 

 Hack your own perception as the brain picks up different information from the same input:

Take a look at the pictures below. It looks like an angry face on the left, and a neutral woman on the right, yeh?

 

 

Now, get up and walk away from your computer a few feet. If you wear long-distance glasses, put them on. Walk forward until you can see the images clearly on the screen. What do you see when you look at the faces now? As you move towards the screen, how do the faces change?

These are 'hybrid' images. Hybrid images change in interpretation as a function of viewing distance. They combine the low spatial frequencies of one image with the high-spatial frequencies of another, producing a result that your brain interprets differently depending on how close you are. Thay can portray different moods and even sexes as you move closer or further away.

 

All you have done, to give the brain totally different information from the same input, is alter that one single variable -distance. You merely moved your head closer to the object (the human version of zoom). Maybe now you are beginning to see how fragile perception really is, so now consider that perception is not just about visuals.

All of your sensory input about everything is turned into percepts, and all of it is subject to being misinterpreted just like this. Brains need a certain critical mass of information before we can imagine accurately what is going on. In this case, you can only get all the information by adopting two or more different points of view. Remember this, when we start exploring empathy!

 

Alice through the looking glass - Mirror Neurons

The inner model that imagination projects images onto includes a large population of mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons or 'mirror cells' are a type of neuron discovered in the 1980s and were so named because, by firing both when an animal performs a behavior and when it simply watches the same behavior, they appear to "mirror" movement, using the same brain pathways as though the observer themselves were performing the behavior.

With fMRI came the ability to examine the entire brain at once, revealing a much wider network of brain areas showing mirror properties in humans than was previously thought.

Detailed human fMRI analyses suggest activity compatible with the presence of mirror neurons in areas of N2, N3 & N6 and they were thought to make the observer feel what it feels like to move in the observed way. More recent experiments have shown that even at the level of single participants, scanned using fMRI, large areas containing multiple fMRI voxels increase their activity both during the observation and execution of actions.[4]

Mirror neurons provide the real life 3-D ‘mind's eye’ in N3.

The initial images and sounds coming in are percepts, so imagination starts to process them, accessing N3's main memory database which contains the imagery for core concepts. The percept images from input are projected onto the inner model and compared against (also projected) known concept images, to see what they most closely match up to. Whatever imagination associates them with most, they will be categorized accordingly and any differences examined. The differences will later determine their exact location on the inner model.

 

 

Mirror neurons project images of any percept including specific behaviors like 'raising arm' or 'sticking out tongue', whether the behavior is performed by ourselves or another individual.[5] Other neurons have anti-mirror properties, that is, they respond when the participant sees an interaction but are inhibited when the participant performs that action, and this is how we are able to tell the difference.

This is the main way in which mirror neurons assist our perception, but in the past few years researchers have newly defined different types of mirror neurons and shown how finely tuned these subsets of mirror neurons can be [1].


Mirror Neurons and Empathy

Mirror neurons play a critical role in how and why we understand other people’s behavior. There are many different physical interactions, like Bruce Lee doing Kung Fu, or Jimi Hendrix playing guitar, that many of us can’t do, but we understand those interactions anyway because when the mirror neurons portray them on the model the percepts are close enough to known concepts to be understood. Doing them physically ourselves isn’t required for understanding; we can imagine how they are done. In fact, neuroimaging data demonstrate that the behaviors we ourselves have the most experience doing — the actions we are best at doing and understand best — actually show less mirror neuron activity because they are so well known they have become 'automatic' and require less imaging when others do them.

Researchers have since shown that, in humans, apes and monkeys, the mirror system also responds to the sounds of interactions.[6]

A large number of experiments using functional MRI, EEG and MEG have now shown that mirror neuron brain regions are active when people experience an emotion (disgust, happiness, sorrow, lust etc.) and when they see another person experiencing a recognized emotion.[7]

More recently, researchers have shown that people who are more empathic have stronger activations both in the mirror system for sensorimotor behavior and the mirror system for emotions,[8] providing more direct evidence that the mirror system is linked to empathy. A notable example of sensorimotor empathy is yawning, which mirror neurons often manage to kick off in ourselves if we see someone else yawn.

But mirror neurons do a great deal more than just help us understand others. Mirror neurons provide a mechanism for action-understanding, imitation-learning, and the simulation of other people's behavior.[9] This enables modeling, a widespread animal behavior that puts the 'M' in COMP.

 

Mirror Neurons & Modeling

 

Mirror neurons are present in many other creatures including infant monkeys. In the 1980s the first abstract appeared reporting that surface electrodes had recorded mirroring in monkeys one- to seven-days old as they watched humans stick out their tongues and smack their lips. This was the first evidence that infants have a mirror mechanism at birth that responds to facial gestures.

Without any experience of stimulation, they are able to focus their attention on the most relevant stimuli and respond. The days-old monkeys stuck out their tongues when they saw the human tongue.


 

Researchers propose that automatic imitation is mediated by the mirror neuron system and that it is the laboratory equivalent of the motor mimicry observed in naturalistic social contexts.[10]

The inner projection system enables us to copy things[17]. The mind can remember and replay a memory of someone else doing something, compare our current performance at the same task against the memory, look at the differences between the two, and fine tune our performance just as adeptly as if we had a real live tutor demonstrating in front of us.

Mirroring abilities increase with experience, and practice increases the acuity of mirror neurons. In humans, for example, more mirroring activity occurs when dancers see other dancers perform routines they know well. Mirroring in blind people is more active in response to more familiar action sounds. More importantly, as we develop we adapt the mirror system to copy not just physical concrete movements (say, for learning to ride a bike) but also abstract concepts like how someone else is able to think (say, for learning nuclear physics or calculus). That's why the mirror system is so important to learning.

 


 

 

 

Perception From the Bottom Up


How cells perceive: the doors of perception

 

To understand the process of imagination, and how a concrete process of physical motion can be turned into an abstract idea, we need to look at what perception really is.

Sentience is the ability to receive information from the senses. Perception is the ability to interpret that data and give it meaning. All healthy life, even a single cell, achieves some form of perception of, and response to, its environment; all life deals with input and produces output that is behavioral and that is to the organisms’ advantage. Every cell has its own little life in which it is born, grows, reproduces and dies, and in the meantime it perceives, responds and adapts. It can take steps to protect itself from harm, seek nutrients, and communicate with its neighbors.

Your brain is a series of cell ‘neighborhoods’, architecturally directed by your mind, but right down at the cellular level, the process of perception is simply mechanical and automatic interaction.

All basic output (changes of behavior in the system) in living systems concerns behavior as motion. A cell for example only has three behavioral directives:

  • Don’t move (relax, digest, consider, grow, develop)

  • Move towards X and make contact (stretch, explore, grow, develop, attracted to input that is beneficial to development)

  • Move away from Y and avoid it or get rid of it (repelled from input that is harmful and protection is needed)

 

These are the basics of every creature’s overall interaction with nature, each behavior leading to success when done at the right time in the relevant circumstances. The first two form the stretch-relax cycle of learning (and note that just as much learning & developing is done when you are relaxing as when you are exploring). The third basic movenets is for our protection, when learning must be interrupted for example during a health threat or impending danger.

But the important thing to grasp is that all movement (processing) inside the cell is in the service of either our development or protection.

This basic 3-way behavior is discernable in all life; from plants and amoebae to humans. Large, multi-celled creatures like us perceive input and respond with 'behavior' as whole units; body and brain and mind all working together (hopefully) to do exactly the same thing that the single-celled ameba is doing -process the input and come up with appropriate outputs of beneficial behavior.

This is what our complicated nervous systems can do best. But everything with even the merest hint of an elementary nervous system can do this; even single cells. Every one of your brain cells is a tiny little organism; able to interactively perceive input in its own environment (its context) and respond with the appropriate cellular behavior as its output.

The 'brain ' of a cell is on its outside. Every animal cell has a ‘skin’ (called a membrane) that acts as its brain and nervous system. The membrane contains sensory receptors (like your senses), and ‘effectors’ (structures that can cause physical motion to do work in the cell). The cell also has 'innards'; organelles (organs) including reproductive organs in its nucleus that contain your DNA.

If you watch a single brain cell in a test tube full of nutrients (if you haven't got one lying around right now, watch some of the single-celled creatures to be found in any drop of pondwater, below) you will see one of these three ‘types of motion’ programs running:

 

Here are two amebas having lunch together. This is 'move towards'. The cells move towards warmth, light and nutrients, and move away from cold, too much heat, or poisons. They also relax, stop moving and digest their food. The membrane separates the outside of the cell from the inside, like your skin, and provides protection for the cell’s contents, but also allows interaction via receptors (sensors), for growth & development to take place.

Different receptors (too small to see at this resolution) on the membrane are like radio or TV antennae that detect signals from different inputs (like our senses). Receptors are input devices.

Another type of molecule in the cell membrane is an effector. An effector binds to a protein and this alters the activity of that protein. Effectors are output devices (they cause a change in behavior of the system).

Each brain cell ‘translates’ signals of chemical information about its context (neurotransmission, nutrients, toxins) into sensorimotor information (sensation as movement) like this: when a chemical signal makes contact with a receptor it causes a physical shape-change on the other end of the receptor (inside the cell). When the signal stops, the shape changes back. Let’s have a look at this in a model close up:

 

The orange ‘plasma membrane’ is the skin of the cell. In (a) we can see the receptor sticking out of the cell. (The spiky end is outside the cell, the other end is inside the cell).

In (b) an ‘agonist’ signal (a bit of relevant chemical) has floated by outside the cell and stuck to the end of the sensor. In this case it is a molecule shaped like a yellow diamond; the right shape to ‘fit’ the receptor. It could be a bit of food floating around for an ameba, a molecule of neurotransmitter for a brain cell, a light frequency hitting a retinal cell, or a scent molecule if this particular cell was in a network up an animal’s nose (receptors are specific to certain types of signals and are ‘tailored’ to suit the cells’ surroundings, so they can ignore anything that doesn’t fit).

 

Notice that the signal’s presence triggers a response: it causes the receptor itself and also the “G proteins” (the little pink and red shapes inside the cell) to change shape and separate.

Once they have done so, one of them can interact with an effector in (c) which responds now that the protein is a ‘relevant’ shape for it to recognize.

Mechanically, proteins are like ‘transformer’ nanobots programmed by their environment (via receptors) to alter their shapes and join together or split apart to form tools that turn on and off the machinery of cell processing and perform its various tasks.

 

Epigenetics

Hopefully you can see how cell receptors and effectors work together –when an environmental signal triggers the receptor (stimulus), the end inside the cell changes shape (response). The ‘inner’ end of the receptor now ‘fits’ the protein that latches onto it, and in doing so the protein changes shape itself and signals the effector. (The ‘nanobot’ proteins change their shape when given a signal because signals change the tiny electrical charges in their molecules). This shape-shifting or ‘transforming’ is actual physical motion, which uses energy and is used to do work in the cell.

Many of the cell’s processing tasks will require that genes be activated or deactivated to code for the needed proteins. When a signal comes in that a gene product is needed, the signal comes from the cell’s own environment, not from some emergent property of the cell itself. It is these signals originating from the environment directly outside cells that activate the expression of a gene.

All the movement happens inside the cell -cells don’t wander about in the brain to chat in response to signals, in their fixed context, the behavior ‘move towards’ is accomplished by growing more connections and sending more signals between cells, and ‘move away’ is accomplished by pruning their own connections away and sending fewer signals.

These processes can only be accomplished by gene switches initiating changes in the genome, and the only triggers for this process come from the cells' own environment.

An organism’s interaction with the environment changing the expression of its genome is an example of epigenetics. This is how epigenetic changes begin; at the cellular level –something in the cell’s environment causes it to respond by stretching or relaxing -expressing (or suppressing) its own activity, the end result triggering the expression (or suppression) of a gene or genes.

Sustained or frequent signals have a long-term effect, and this is why epigenetic hacking requires sustained maintenance of habits that exert control over cellular environments (e.g. control of your blood pressure, nutrition or neurochemistry) and also why it is long-lasting and rarely causes snapback.

The tiny moves that cells make inside themselves are what enable all the physical and mental processes that trigger all the resulting behavioral moves we make. Cells’ moves are based on their perception of their environment because they assume their perception is an accurate reflection of what’s going on in our environment. They believe –and also remember- only what they are ‘told’ by the signals they perceive; only what they physically experience.

Our own behavioral flexibility relies on the ability to quickly shift to a new cognitive set (i.e. change our point of view) in response to changing external demands. But the mechanisms of our cognitive flexibility operate even at this single cell level; right from the bottom up.

This is why bottom-up hacking is usually permanent or at least long lasting; top down hacking is usually temporary or transient.

Hopefully now you are beginning to see how environmental signals control the very basics of our perception and our memory through the senses, here at the cellular level. Receptors have awareness of and pick up signals from their environment, and when the shape-changing ‘switch’ is activated it creates a physical sensation for the cell as a pattern of movements and a memory of that pattern. This is the cell’s equivalent of perception and it controls the cell.

To a cell, all thought is motion, because all thought causes signaling and signaling causes motion. Inner reflection is therefore also input to a cell, as are intellect, creativity and all our mental processes, because all thought sends environmental signals to cells in their neighborhood. The cells don’t know where the input comes from, they just respond.

All thought relies on a combination of current input, prediction and memory. So the contents of your thoughts create different chemical environments for the cells, and that is how thought can affect your behavior.

Current input, prediction and memory are all based on perception in the first place. If cells don't perceive anything, they don't respond. If you don't perceive something, there is no cellular motion and whatever it is will not be processed at all.

 


DO IT NOW

 

How we can edit reality - inattentional blindness

The most famous demonstration of inattention blindness was staged in 1999 by Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris. It involves a game of basketball. Chances are you've seen it or read about a version of this before. If not, without reading the accompanying spoilers on youtube etc, have a look at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bioyh7Gnskg&feature=related

In this version the task is to count the number of passes made by the team in black

OR

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pK0BQ9CUHk

(but this version has a spoiler, so don't read the introductory text). In this version the task is to count the number of passes made by the team in white. You won't believe your brain.

OR

http://viscog.beckman.illinois.edu/flashmovie/15.php

In this version the task is to count the number of passes made by the team in white. (In this version it may be impossible to get audio, that doesn't matter, but after the first watch you may have to watch it two or three times more to see what’s going on.)

 

Imagination Reloaded

The movements inside cells do things like turn on genes, make new proteins, convert fuel to energy, signal other cells and so on. This process is, literally, how perception works from the bottom up. We now see that ‘input’ to any cell inside the brain actually comes from the cell’s own environment; the space between cells. Information from the outside world ends up in-between cells in the brain via the senses because our skin and eyes and ears are all made of cells doing exactly the same thing –responding to their environment by turning signals into internal movements. Imagination is the translation program that processes all input, regardless of whether it is internal or external. Without it, we could not perceive anything.

We can see how perception turns a series of cellular mechanical movements into automatic responses, and how the cell remembers those responses, but how does it turn them into the familiar abstract concepts our brain can talk and think about?

If we cannot “form a mental image of something”, unconsciously, we literally cannot ‘make sense out of it’ consciously or perceive it clearly. Often we cannot perceive it at all. This has been known about on the physical level for some time and also on the functional one, from experiments with young animals.

On the physical level it seems easy to understand –if one eye of a baby animal is covered and never used, the ability of that eye to see will not develop. Nonuse leads to atrophy and the networks that would have developed break down. On the functional level too, it seems obvious that if a child never hears language, s/he will not develop language. What is new is the evidence that this also occurs on the abstract levels of executive function, abilities and ideas. If we never experience a particular way of thinking about things or doing things, if we never build a concept of it, we will never be able to recognize or understand it.

We may hear the sounds and see the pictures from the outside (percepts) but can’t imagine anything that they associate with (concepts) on the inside, or we may associate percepts with mismatched concepts.

Some people cannot grasp poetry or spirituality, others cannot grasp math or science, in exactly the same way that some creatures can only recognise their dinner if it is moving. If a creature keeps still, many ilifeforms cannot recognize it as food, which shows the value of the 'freeze' response in danger. There are not enough points of similarity between the percept of a dead fly and a frog's known concepts of food for the frog to perceive it as edible. In exactly the same way if here are not enough points of similarity between the percept of a poem and a person's known concepts of language use for the person to perceive it as understandable, it will not be recognized as making any sense.

Materially, if we haven’t built enough of a network to process color or odor or empathy or poetry or calculus, we cannot understand it. There are not enough points of similarity between percepts coming in and the concepts of our database. This can happen for various reasons, which we'll discuss in the problems section later.

Update your paradigm: Imagination’s primary task is not to deal with pretend stuff, it is to deal with real stuff.

Sure, we can use it creatively to invent pretend stuff on purpose just like we can use nuts and bolts to make jewellery, but this is not its main function even though it has until very recently been mistaken for it.

If you are having problems understanding the concepts here it may help you to (literally) replace the word “imagination” with the phrase “image processing” throughout the tutorial (you can do this with Word’s edit/replace function). This will remind you that we are explaining a recently discovered set of mental processes here and not getting caught up in the old ideas about or interpretations of ‘imagination’.

It’s already clear that we need to seriously rethink the popular definition of imagination in the light of new knowledge. We started with:

“The ability to form mental images or concepts not present to the senses”.

But in fact we now see that as soon as a mental image is formed, it becomes immediately ‘present to the senses’, because we cannot form a mental image without sending signals to cells, and these become physical sensations and sensorimotor patterns and memories the moment that cells receive them. That leaves us with the tighter definition:

“The ability to form mental images or concepts”.

And that’s a much more accurate definition for the process neuroscience now knows imagination to be.

You may be thinking that cellular perception doesn’t count as ‘senses’, only things like sight and hearing are ‘proper’ senses. But how do we detect signals coming into cells in the retina or cochlea? –By cellular perception –the signals coming into cells, that become physical sensations and sensorimotor patterns of movement within the cell! All sensory information comes in this way and is stored in short term memory as “the pattern of movements that the cell made in response to its signals”. The cell doesn’t ‘know’ that the information came from ‘out there’; only we know that. For individual cells, all input comes from ‘out there’. None of this information is conscious in the cell, and we can only make it available to the conscious mind via imagination.

 

The eyes are the camcorders of the mind

We know that if we point a camera at a scene ‘out there’ and record footage, and that footage is viewed on a monitor while we do so, the light in the picture on the screen is not coming from ‘out there’, it is coming from the screen or the projector in response to the information in whatever program is running to translate and project the information from the footage.

We are going to have to get used to the idea that the brain is doing very much the same thing.

Research reveals that when we look at the world “out there” the light that we ‘see’ by doesn’t come from ‘out there’ at all; it comes from the same place that the ‘light’ in dreams comes from; where ALL our imagery comes from. We imagine it as the light ‘out there’ because it is an inner response to signals coming in from retinal cells, but in fact all perception is ‘inner’ imagery.

The ‘projection of imagery’ process is identical regardless of the source of its input. We imagine it came from outside or inside depending on a multiple of variables; its intensity, its nature, what networks it has been processed by, what mirror neurons have fired, body signals, and our own interaction with it. Cells don’t know where their input is coming from; they just respond. Our experience of life is determined by how well imagination can process cells’ responses; in other words imagination takes an ongoing educated guess as to what is going on, and how educated a guess (prior experience, amount of input, comparative memory, context probability) determines the clarity of our perception.

The mind doesn't waste time or energy. If there’s only a glimpse of footage, it often can’t imagine what we saw or heard, so it forgets it (this is fortunate, or we’d remember everything that didn’t matter). If we’re doing something routine that has become automatic, imagination often doesn't bother to refresh the page when changes happen (which is how we get confused if a regularly used door or cupboard is moved and keep turning to where it used to be, and it's also how we miss noticing small changes).

fMRI has given us some delightful evidence that conscious memory, perception and empathy are all functions enabled by imagination, as is all conscious thought. Imagination is the root process behind:

 

 

Many essential functions use the same areas of the same networks. The core process is imagination. Neuroimaging of these tasks demonstrates that similar circuits are activated by detailed planning, theory of mind, and episodic recall, and that these same circuits are also part of the "default network" of brain regions which tend to become active when subjects are not given any instructions at all. That is, "undirected" tasks (such as staring at a blank screen) are accompanied by a "highly stereotypical pattern" of brain activity that overlaps strongly with those involved in tasks requiring imagination.

 

Imagination is the ability to form mental images or concepts, period. All of them.

 

Imagination is the process of translating high-dimensional patterns /sequences of mechanical sensorimotor cellular signals into imagery and abstract concepts (behavior into ideas) and manipulating them in order that intelligence can predict and strategize for the most beneficial adaptations, and doing the same thing in reverse (converting abstract concepts into behavior). The inner model acts like a user interface between unconscious processing and conscious thought.

When we build our own models of reality, regardless of what format we use, we base them on the body of knowledge that is already established as far as possible. If we build a model to explain some details of physics, for example, we take into account the physical laws of the universe that we already have plenty of proof for, then we try to fill in the missing bits and unify the ideas.

The mind must build its model right from the beginning of life, and doesn't have time to wait until it understands scientific laws. It uses the only body of knowledge that IT knows as being solid and real and provable; the knowledge of its body and physical experience.

The mind doesn't have time to wait for loads of brain networks to grow before it makes its model either -indeed, without association those networks won't grow anyway! The tools already available to it are all it has; a mirror neuron system that can represent concepts as images, and a body-in-space awareness (proprioception) that associates positions with coordinates through physical experience.

To build the model, the same spatial 'body awareness' process that enables us to know where we are in space is now used to allocate coordinates to abstract concepts and percepts.

We need to understand the process on the concrete material level, as that will help to understand how the same process can be used on a concrete or abstract level. This is a good example of the mind's ability to use the same processes on both concrete and abstract agents.

Neuroscientists have identified three types of cells in N3; called place cells, head direction cells and grid cells.

Place cells are in the hippo and exhibit a high rate of firing whenever an animal is in a specific location in an environment corresponding to the cell's "place field".[11] Place cells map out and encode your location as you move around the environment, lighting up to tell the brain 'you are here' when you pass a specific place. Each place cell in the brain ‘prefers’ a slightly different geographical place. For example, as you wander around your home looking for something that has gone missing, different cells in your hippo will be active at different locations. The area within your environment that triggers a given cell is called its ‘place field’. Across lots of cells, the whole environment can be represented. This is how you can learn to get out of a maze, where things are around town, and how to get back home again, even in the dark.

Knowing as we do how use (exercise) can build up networks, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that city cab drivers, (before GPS), had the biggest hippos with more and denser connections than the rest of us and consequently better spatial memory skills.

Place cells are active when you visit a particular area, regardless of which direction you’re facing, so the hippo also contains ‘directional cells’ that allow you to remember which way you are facing and which way you are heading, independent of where you are.

Head direction cells act like a compass. They are active only when your head points in a specific direction within an environment. These neurons fire at a steady rate, but show a decrease in firing rate down to a low baseline rate as your head turns away from the preferred direction (usually returning to baseline when facing about 45° away from this direction).

These cells are found in network 3 and areas where N3 interfaces with N6, including the thalamus striatum and entorhinal cortex.[12] Head direction cells are not sensitive to geomagnetic fields (i.e. they are not "magnetic compass" cells), and are neither purely driven by nor are independent of sensory input.

Grid cells; the third type of cells in N3, use the mind's 'inner model' as a grid-like pattern akin to how we use latitude and longitude for navigation. The firing fields of each grid cell portray a remarkable hexagonal pattern of regular triangles covering the entirety of the person’s environment.

 

Grid cells were discovered in 2005. To achieve the picture above, an electrode capable of recording the activity of an individual neuron was implanted in the dorsomedial entorhinal cortex of a rat, and recordings were made as the rat moved around freely by itself in an open arena. For a grid cell, a dot was placed at the location of the rat's head every time the neuron fired. As illustrated in the picture below, these dots built up over time to form a set of small clusters, and the clusters form the vertices of a grid of equilateral triangles.[13]

 

This regular triangle-pattern is what distinguishes grid cells from other types of cells that show spatial firing correlates.

The arrangement of spatial firing fields all at equal distances from their neighbors led to a hypothesis that these cells encode a cognitive representation of space [13]. The discovery also suggested a mechanism for dynamic computation of self-position based on continuously updated information about position and direction.

What makes grid cells especially interesting is that the regularity in grid spacing does not derive from any regularity in the external environment or in the sensory input available to an animal. Such a pattern of symmetric receptive fields could not result from external sensory input alone but must also be due to pattern generation within the brain itself.

Grid cells use the inner model; the abstract spatial structure that is constructed inside the brain and superimposed on every context by the brain irregardless of sensory input or actual features of the environment; categorising everything according to its location on an imagined 3D grid.

In repeated exposures to the same environment, the grid cells fire at the identical positions, suggesting that grid cells construct a stable map of the environment based on N3's inner model. The inner model is activated in a universal manner across environments, regardless of the environment's particular landmarks, suggesting that the same neural model is applied everywhere. The grid associates closely with self-motion cues because it forms instantaneously in a novel environment and is not perturbed by removal of visual cues. Because the inner model also associates with eidetic core concepts this allows percept to be matched with concept, experience to be translated into meaning, instantly.

Because of its gridlike nature, the model is potentially infinite and can represent places not visited as well as places that have been visited.

 

Hardware turns into software when code is given meaning.

All that needs to happen to apply the same process to hardware or software is to give them associated meaning. On the hardware level, the concept 'looking back' means turning the head around and looking behind you (a concrete concept). On the abstract level the same concept is given the meaning, “looking back into the past”(an abstract concept). All main abstract concepts are based at root on association with physical movements related to animal behaviors.

The existence of a single neural model that can be applied anywhere is efficient and avoids the capacity problem of needing separate maps for every spatial context and separate models for different contexts.

If this grid system is fully functional on the concrete level we not only have our own internal GPS system but onboard motion sensor as well. N3 logs all movement within the grid; from the complex vectors involved in playing tennis to the microscopic flicker of an eyelid. This ability to associate points in a mental ‘spatial network’ model to real points in space in both the outside environment and muscular movement of the body reveals the core behind not only the ability for navigation but to the entire structure of perception and interpretation, and all memory storage and recall. Because on the abstract level N3 uses its spatial map to build the inner model as a mind map for the whole of memory and learning for the rest of our lives.

Wait a minute, I hear you think, -how can all of our diverse areas of memory and knowledge possibly fit into one mind map? What’s more, what has physical movement and spatial awareness got to do with remembering the factual information needed to pass exams, or remembering someone’s name, or recognising your relatives, or how to spell acetylcholinesterase? The answer is the process of imagination, and we'll explore this later in this tutorial. For now, it's time to take a look at some of the things that can get in the way of N3's system.

 

 


 

 

 

What Happens if Things Go Wrong?

 

Hopefully you’ll understand by now that the causes of problems for imagination are going to be the same causes of problems facing all networks and all other functions of intelligence –yes you got it! Wrong input and/or lack of input plus the attendant incongruity and anxiety.

 

Problems with whole networks: poor connections or unbalanced networks

To make its interpretations, N3 relies partly on the quality of input from networks 1&2. N1&2 are like the film crew with cameras and microphones filming a scene- if the senses are faulty (say the lens is dirty or the scene is obscured by shadows or background noise), the information is sparse and N3 doesn’t capture as much data as it could do. But despite the quality of the cameras, if the camera operator isn't paying attention and adjusting to point them at the right things, or the sound guy doesn't press 'record', valuable information will be missed (that's no input). It will also be missed if a load of noisy tourists gets between the sensors and the subject (that's wrong input).

We need good sensors and good control of the crew operating those sensors in order to concentrate and avoid irrelevant distractions. That's why these primary input networks; the rear networks, must be balanced if we are to progress.

Your NH tools for adjusting rear networks are anxiety reduction and input control. (We’ll discuss input control for developing imagination later). If you’ve read all the tutorials so far, we think you already know about the importance of anxiety reduction. If you know you need to implement anxiety control (and most of us do) the important thing now is to find whatever methods work best for you and practise them.

The following are some common ways in which poor connections and/or unbalanced networks can trip us up at this stage:

 

If networks 1 & 2 are underused, wrongly used or sparsely connected to each other and/or N3, the quality of input to N3 and consequently all further nets will be compromised. It will be hard work to develop imagination until you have got all this supporting machinery up and running on the correct tasks.


If 1 & 2 are out of balance, not only is all input compromised, but we will have difficulty synchronizing the stretch-relax cycle in all learning and in all behavior -we will tend to do too much or not enough or swing from one to the other. In certain combinations with underused/wrongly used front nets in extreme, serious problems like paranoia, hypertension or bipolar disorder can occur.

Insufficient density in rear nets can lead to some peculiar side effects too. Fear of heights (acrophobia; often mislabeled ‘vertigo’) for example is linked to problems perceiving (imaging correctly) vertical data, significantly overestimating vertical distances.

The stronger the fear, the bigger the error, and anxiety increases the misjudgement (all anxious persons tend to overestimate vertical but not horizontal distances)[14].

 

Problems with parts of networks/network functions

If attention is faulty the senses will not stay on any one thing long enough to get a high resolution picture and imagination will be limited by input quality.

If observation is faulty the senses may stay on one thing but thoughts are elsewhere, clear percepts do not form, and imagination cannot make the right associations because it's too busy processing what you're thinking about instead of what you're doing now. This is a fine thing if we're doing it on purpose as a hack (for example, because the lecturer is boring), but not at all fine when it happens to us without our informed consent.

Either of these problems will increase unconscious anxiety, prevent concentration and make learning difficult, and in extreme could get you diagnosed with ADHD.

 

If association and N3's inner model are inaccurate due to wronguse, perception will be warped and misinterpretation is likely.

A naturally developing imagination (and ours, if we develop it) is very tightly structured according to existing hard wired concepts and categories in its model. When it isn't, there is poor association and incongruity. Being educated to be an analytical logical thinker ahead of time (as many of us are) often prevents us from building up these natural associations from core eidetic bases, instead replacing them with synthetic associations such as that between fatness and wealth or that between school work and learning.

Making connections where none should naturally exist is wronguse, (and its also exactly what advertising does).

Once we're mentally healthy and going in the right direction, we don't associate unrelated things; when imagination is aligned with reality things that are associated in reality are automatically associated in imagination, because one is an accurate copy (mirroring) of the other.


If N3 is short of mirror neurons due to nonuse, association will be limited and imagination will be poor, this can limit or even prevent the development of any skills requiring their function. N3 neurons need a high density population to achieve many tasks, and inner perception is like the resolution of the picture on your monitor screen; the more pixels (neural connections) you have, the more complete and accurate is the picture, because more detail can be represented without compression.


If N3 has insufficient input, it will be in nonuse even if good populations of mirror neurons are there, they will not be functional and will tend to degrade with time.

These conditions also increase unconscious anxiety and make learning difficult, and in extreme they are features of some types of autism & aspergers syndrome.

 

Lack of mirror neurons & autism

In 2001, researchers hypothesized that a deficit in the mirror neuron system could explain some of the problems of autism.

People with autistic syndromes have mirroring defects. Aspergers syndrome people often have great difficulty using the whole rear end and parts of N4, and it is almost always associated with early long term wronguse of N5 and lack of input for earlier networks, particularly lack of bonding and real world sensorimotor experience. The evidence indicates that mirror system dysfunction in these cases reflects an impairment in identifying with and assigning personal significance to unfamiliar people and things (in other words, percepts cannot find concepts to match up with and remain unrecognized).[15]

Many of the 'social difficulties' blamed on aspergers are due to lack of mirror neurons, but this lack is in turn due not to some congenital disorder but to lack of any good examples to copy. In short, a lot of aspergers people are just plain rude because their families, friends, teachers and favorite TV characters are habitually rude and don't think politeness is important -and this is equally true of a great many people without aspergers.

Since the construction of the association database and our inner model depends partly on the functions of mirror neurons, lack of use will restrict their development, as it does all other cells. The system defaults to ‘cannot find association’ for everyday memory and the attitude defaults to resistance to change. But the failure of any part of the brain to develop (except in cases of injury or sometimes genetics) can normally be traced back to the failure of an earlier part to fully develop, which lacked the input triggers on which it in turn depended.

A retraining of mirror neurons to respond appropriately to natural stimuli via N1 & 2 and integrate association in N3 may reduce the social symptoms of autism, and one research group has been using neurofeedback training to successfully renormalize functioning in this system. Enough healthy input over time grows sufficient density of mirror neurons to allow further development, and good examples ensure healthy use.[16]

This is why it’s important to practice NH as well as reading about it; only the hacks and exercises can produce those input triggers; the words on this page cannot. Only walking the path yourself can grow your mind.


If rear nets are well balanced but there are problems with functions relating to front nets, start work on the earliest weak network. Differences in types of problem arise:

  1. Well balanced rear nets but poor connections from N3 to N6. In the healthy default for adult persons with a fully functional brain, N6 and N3 will be working together as the central processing unit. There is a lot more processing power available in tandem with N6 than N3 has on its own. If N3 is strong, but there are poor connections to or a sparsely formed N6, some of what is going on in the inner model will be interpreted as coming from outside the organism. The result is the tendency to projection -the habit of perceiving in everyone else the faults that we actually have ourselves. There are likely to be problems with decision making, especially where morals or priorities are concerned, reluctance to take any responsibility, and a morbid fear of blame. Poor connections between N3 & 6 can even cause us to see 'ghosts' or externalized visions, and in the extreme delusions or hallucinations. These are not necessarily unpleasant, but can be disorienting.

    This is a simple case of wrong interpretation of where information is coming from, and so wrong categorization. Some percepts are faulty, but they are sent on for processing anyway assumed to be correct and N3 tries to match them to reality and reality to them. Incongruity results, and anxiety increases. “Why am I surrounded by incompetents?” the incompetent person yells, unaware that what is really annoying them unconsciously is the failure of their own mind to competently make sense out of its input.

    People are especially prone to this problem if other front nets are sparse. Such persons will also have difficulties planning and strategizing well, taking effective decisions or making successful and accurate judgments. Memory problems with facts figures and procedures also occur. If this sounds like you, start work on the earliest underactive (lack of input) AND overactive (wrong input) network. Exercise the former, hack the latter.

     

  2. Well balanced rear nets but poor quality N4 or N5 connections to N3. This happens often. If you’ve done a FA you’ll know whether your front networks may be underactive. If rear nets are balanced, it’s still possible to have sparse connections from N3 to N4 or N5 or both.

    If the connection between N3 & N4 is poor we will have trouble organizing things and problems with seeing 'the big picture', tending to get distracted by details and forget priorities. Creativity may be low, and we may be uncomfortable with machinery or technology, feeling we are 'out of our depth'. We may not understand metaphors and we'll almost certainly have difficulties with social skills, aesthetics, synthesis, and interaction. Self-control can be an issue, as can dedication to long term goals and projects. If N3-N5 connection is strong, linguistic problems can arise -we can use language formally but not poetically. Sense of humor may suffer.

    If the connection between N3 & N5 is poor we will have self esteem problems, poor forward-planning skills, accounting and analysis problems, and we may be uncomfortable with math or logic skills. It will be more difficult for us to look at ourselves objectively for feedback, or to be objective about emotive situations. If N3-N4 connection is strong, literacy problems can arise -we can use language poetically but not formally. Weak N3-N5 connection is an unusual situation if rear nets are balanced though, and it doesn't happen very often.

  3. Well balanced rear nets and good connections to front nets but lack of density in the Corpus Callosum (the ‘main bus’ connecting 4 & 5). If this is sparse it’s very difficult (though not impossible) to balance front nets. We always seem to be 'in two minds' about things and have difficulty making decisions, predicting and making judgments. Self-control can be a problem and we can go to extremes if we are not careful. Playing a musical instrument is one of the finest ways to address this problem!

We’ll include exercises for these problems at the end. If you work on your networks in the right order you will avoid most of these problems, because connections between networks will improve automatically as you start using networks as intended.


Problems with database content in N3 itself

Large differences in processing are notable between persons with congruously associative eidetic image databases and those without. In those with congruous association, faster learning, easy interaction, high empathy and good social skills are apparent from an early age. In those with inconguent association, difficulties in learning, poor empathy and lack of social skills predominate regardless of the state of networks or connections between networks.

Any past wrong use such as schooling, television, physical restraint and wrong examples will have impeded our association nets from forming congruously; because what N3 needs most to form the inner model is simple autonomy -freedom to explore what it wants when it wants and how it wants, without having any value judgment placed upon experience. This is play, and it's the only way to develop the brain.

When the brain is developing imagination, lack of play =no input, but inner-model-making must go ahead as best it can, grabbing at things that might be associated and trying to fit them into its model. The more wrong associations that are made, the harder it then becomes to 'do more of the jigsaw'. The model is incongruous and the world seems not to make sense.

Fantasy play is equally important to sensorimotor play, for the developing imagination. Fantasy play teaches us imagery transfer –we have one item but can imagine it’s another item, or we have ourselves but can imagine we are someone else or somewhere else. Imagery transfer is exactly what we need to learn in order to abstract ideas from concrete information. Play is always in the service of development, and we play in fantasy in order to learn the mind's process for abstraction in real life.

To the mind, play is always training that enables further development. We begin to see real congruous associations between one thing and another; between fantasy and reality, fact and fiction, for a vital start. To do this well, we need a ‘touchstone’; something grounded firmly in concrete material reality to compare our play world against and clearly understand the differences; our 'safe known', from which to venture confidently into the unknown. At the age when this network is intended to be growing (optimally between ages 4-7), this ‘touchstone’ would be our parents.

The touchstone must be not only real and materially present, but permanent; something the child has known for as long as s/he can remember and that never goes out of hearing distance. If the parent is present (and even better, joins in), exploration of the world of imagination in play is safe, shared with loved ones, and significant, and development of mental abilities goes ahead fast and smoothly.

Leaving a child with strangers AT ALL before age seven removes this touchstone. If this happened to you (and it happens to most of us when we're incarcerated in school), you will benefit most from starting work on the earliest underactive net before starting work on N3. Rest assured, a congruous association net can be structured at any age, and once you begin the process, your brain will be delighted to help!

We'll include exercises & hacks to help you build up congruous association & strong imagination skills in all intermediate tutorials. You'll learn more about the inner model and congruous association over the next few tutorials.

 

Problems with neurotransmitters or receptors

Some problems that can affect imagination are neurochemical. Without the appropriate neurochemistry, networks are receiving and sending inaccurate messages (this can also happen if connections are wrongly wired or damaged). Paranoia, schizophrenia and mania are three good examples of how our beliefs about input and where it is coming from can skew our perception and memory alike.

Most neurochemical imbalance is caused by anxiety, and this is why it remains NH enemy # 1. Accidents and trauma are also risk factors, as is diet.

There are so many ways to adjust neurochemistry that discussing them would take up a whole tutorial, but there are really only a few things to bear in mind. One is, learn how the system works. Once you understand what causes what, you can practice prevention rather than cure. Learn about the associations between animal behaviors, neurotransmitters and networks. “Know yourself”.

A second point is that with any neurochemical imbalance, look first at your input control and anxiety reduction. Anyone who is living on corn chips and fizzy cola, yelling at people, waking up to alarm clocks or watching soaps isn’t taking their NH –or their neurochemistry- seriously. That’s fine; you don’t have to take NH seriously but you DO have to accept the reality that IF you’re not taking NH seriously THEN you can't expect big or fast improvements.

 

Practising NH is like anything else –take karate, for example. Some people do karate for a bit of a laugh, fitness, health or self-protection, others really want to be Bruce Lee, or able to do stunts in movies, others will end up taking the Buddhist path and living in a monastery. We place no value judgment on your reasons for doing NH but we do feel competent to judge that it won't work well unless you know yourself and are clear about what your reasons are and actually practice.

A lot of neurochemical imbalances are ordinarily treated top-down at the symptom level and relief is temporary. If you’re not getting the results you would like, look at your level of commitment to change in the simple bottom-up areas of your life before seeking complex psychological explanations for transmitter imbalance. 95% of the time the bottom-up changes made by anxiety reduction and input control result in the greatest growth and the fastest balancing. And when you’re treating root causes instead of symptoms, relief and improvement are permanent.

The golden rules “always do things in the right order” and “If the brain doesn’t get what it needs, the mind won’t do what you want” become sharply apparent at this stage in your NH. There really is no getting around this if you want permanent change; you have to give the brain what it needs and you have to do so in the right order. Doing this builds up and balances your rear networks first so that all others can confidently depend on them.

Working on N3 will automatically improve all other nets. Almost always, problems with frontal nets affecting intellect or creativity can be hacked automatically by working on earlier networks; most especially N3.

 

 

 

When you make a mistake, congratulate yourself on growing your brain!

"..if you don't make mistakes you're not really trying". -Coleman Hawkins (musician)

…First thing that is taught in special forces’ CQC (close quarters combat) = How to fall over, from various heights.

 

If imagination doesn’t develop well, all networks are going to be affected. Wrong input or lack of input to any network that receives information from sensory neurons (N1, 2 & 3) will result in a memory database full of unreliable information and a model full of incongruous associations, compromising all functions relying on their data all over the brain.

This does not just mean the networks “further forward”, because wrong feedback from any network to any other network is also wrong input. If initial input is unreliable, ‘feedback’ signals from frontal lobes based on its information are also unreliable (garbage in=garbage out). Any rear network that is either not doing very much or trying to do the wrong things really is going to affect the whole of your intelligence.

! Snapback warning: It's a fact that most mistakes in NH are made either right at the beginning, or whilst working on network 3.

The sudden discovery that we are probably not making as much sense of the world as we could be, and that our perception is probably inaccurate, comes home hard to intermediate NHers. We've already climbed one mountain and kicked ass against the anxiety dragon, and I guess we kinda felt that it's all going to be plain (or at least plainER) sailing now we've got the dragon under surveillance and we're able to chill out and get some R & R whenever we need to. Then all of a sudden there's this whole other level of stuff to start taking on board and if we get a bit swamped, snapback can happen. It usually happens the first time we make a mistake; often something simple in our everyday lives such as a failed communication or trouble with a relationship.

The first time any confusing or depressing shit happens, anxiety will try to tell you (rearloaders) NH is all a load of nerdy emotionless scientific terminlogy that has nothing to do with real life or (frontloaders) NH is a load of old woo woo new age pseudo science crap.

If you find yourself thinking either of these, The Matrix has you. If you do nothing, anxiety will start to fill your mind with 'I told you; life is shit and then you die' or 'human nature can't be changed and you'll always be worthless and you can't cope' messages, so cut it off at the password right away!

Go do your relaxation techniques and review & practice your input control. Watch some comedy. Then come back here with a clearer more acute mind and consider this: if anxiety's hypothesis is that NH doesn't work, how did we predict it's reaction? : )

Smile. Take a cookie. We promise when you're done eating it you'll feel right as rain.

 

Space corps directive 404a: No time traveling after errors

We know that we rely on our perception for appropriate interaction. Common sense tells us this; if we don’t notice (perceive) something we are obviously not able to respond to it or remember it.

We are normally also aware of the status of our own senses –our beliefs that we are awake, aware, sober and of sound mind (or conversely an awareness that we may be drunk or hallucinating) are equally valuable in order for our perception to have any meaning.

This ‘awareness’ of our own state is also perception (and it can go wrong, for example we can misjudge our mental and physical state in intoxication, hypothermia, shock, heatstroke, illness or anxiety).

Our perception is our only experience of reality –whatever we imagine is “out there” we believe to be out there, and because we are able to imagine reality very well and can experience feedback to confirm it means that we get it right most of the time (the reason why we don’t think of it as ‘imaginary’).

A good imaginary model of reality that behaves just like the original is not going to draw deliberate attention to the fact that it is a simulation. This is why we can’t tell that we are constantly imagining, from moment to moment, what is going on “out there”. What we imagine is usually correct, or at least close enough for us not to notice.

When imagination gets it wrong, initially it causes confusion, misunderstandings and accidents. We imagined that our car would fit through that space, or that this task would only take a few moments, or that we’d left our keys right there on the table, or that our thumb really was further away from that cheese knife, or that so-and-so was our friend, or that all people from a particular place were dumb, or that the door was where it used to be but Woops! We were wrong!

Valuable mistakes like these teach imagination to get it right and fine tune our perception. New findings[18] establish a physiological measure linking this trial outcome and learning directly to brain plasticity.

Up to 50% of recorded hippocampal cells differentiate between correct and error responses. Many of them also respond more strongly to particular object-place combinations as learning improves. (This suggests that the cells' ability to make distinctions between correct and incorrect trial outcomes influences new learning through plasticity, by fine tuning a cell's sensitivity to the signals available to it.) Mistakes trigger ‘smart wiring’ programs that help the brain improve its own performance.

They don’t achieve this if we’re worried or guilty though (cortisol causes hippo cells to overfire, eventually burning them out).

So now you know –when you make a cock up, don’t turn it into a flamingo up (like a cock up only much bigger) by worrying or feeling guilty about it. Celebrate the fact that right now you’re growing new brain cells to fine-tune your mind –and that the mistake provided exactly the data you needed in the here and now to make you even smarter in the future.

Most importantly, don't go time travelling after errors. LEAVE MISTAKES BEHIND! Trust your intelligence. If you get in its way by insisting on concentrating on the mistake and obsessing over what you should or should not have done in the past, or worrying that it might happen again in the future you are slowing the process down, plus you may well cock up more things because if you’re not fully here in the present, you’re not paying attention to what’s going on here and now.

If you make a mistake, don’t time travel in order to stay in the past where it happened –leave it behind, keep moving forward in development. If you make a series of mistakes in learning,

sure, have a brief look to sum up what happened, what it was you fell over and where, etc, but don’t obsess over it consciously. Consider whether the brain is getting what it needs (food, sleep, interaction etc) or if it is an external problem such as needing more information. Review where you are in the learning cycle, and behave accordingly. Let it go. Be aware that with just the input it has already and maybe a dream or two to make associations in memory, your brain can do all the work of changing stuff around in itself, your body and your mind so that you won’t cock up in the same way again.

Imagination splices together our ‘embodied’ experience of perception –our ability to imagine the ‘big picture’ accurately, and fine-tunes it with error/correct feedback. Without experience of mistakes, this fine tuning won’t occur. As we eliminate moves that lead to error by adjusting sensitivity in response to errors, we can edit together all the successful moves into the fine-tuned procedures we are learning. The neuronal paths that led to the mistake will no longer be available. If we practice new tasks or skills in a time schedule suited to the learning cycle, this happens fast.

 

Virtual reality embodiment

The incredible speed and parallel nature of our processing of events embodied in reality does not ordinarily reveal imagination’s editing process and it remains largely unconscious. This makes life seem like a smooth ongoing flow; we experience life as a continuum, not as a series of jumps and starts or bits or movie frames or individual signals but as a whole ‘movie’ plus more –in fact our perception of life is a complete 3-D interactive real time immersion experience; it’s like being inside of a totally realistic virtual reality computer game; and unconscious awareness of this aspect of perception has led to several conspiracy theories that humans are virtual reality beings trapped in a computer (probably invented by people with poor connections between N3 & N6).

The simple truth is, because of our superfast processing rate, instead of a series of glimpses of what might be going on 'out there', imagination creates and sustains a perceptual “holomovie” experience or ‘virtual reality embodiment.’ This is how the coherent, complex and ordered ‘big picture’ of reality can emerge from a few layers of simple cell machinery following a set of basic processes.

 

DO IT NOW

Use your imagination


You're going to use your imagination to make a graphic model, because this way you can do your NH practical and theory at the same time!

You will need: a pen/pencil or their software equivalents on screen, and your NH diary.

Imagine a future movie studio. This studio is where they make the 3D movies; all CGI. The building is a single storey (ground floor only).

The game: Draw a simple floor plan of this studio in your NH diary, bearing the following facts in mind (read through them all before you start):

 

There is a big central room that has 5 corridors, each leading to another room. The central room is room ‘3’, it is called the Production & Editing room (you should write their names in).

 

  • Room 6 is in the north (at the top of your map)

  • Rooms 1 and 5 are on the west side

  • Rooms 2 & 4 are on the east side

  • There is a corridor joining rooms 1 & 2

  • There is a corridor joining rooms 4 & 5

  • There is a corridor from room 4 to room 6

  • There is a corridor from room 5 to room 6

  • Try to keep your corridors as short as possible.

  • The other rooms are called (1) Camera, Stills & Props; (2) Robotics, Motion Animation & Backgrounds; (4) Plot Dynamics & continuity; (5) Dialog, SFX & Presentation and (6) Direction.

These facts only should restrict your design. Go ahead and sketch it out.

 

You've just designed your own simple model of the brain. Although this is a 2-D map, it should help you see why the brain is put together the way it is (maximum ease of data transfer between associated ‘rooms’ (networks) that do closely related processes).

The physiological architecture of the real brain is restricted by the same requirements, but the inner model that it forms of the world has different restrictions. We're now going to construct an 'inner model' of reality based on congruous association that will help you understand how the mind does so.

 


 

 

The Mind's Inner Model


You already know that all neurotransmitters are modulated by N3’s associations to coordinate types of animal behavior and the emotional & body states needed for them. You also know that N3 can transmit to and receive from all systems, and that the signals that prompt association with a certain concept are the same signals that prompt the release of certain neurotransmitters. (We talked about this in the last two tutorials so you should be getting familiar with it by now.)

It must be obvious to you that all this needs to be going on at the same time in real time, because we experience real life as a first-person movie, not a series of disconnected incidents. The 'finished product' of perception is astonishingly complex, but the processes behind it are relatively simple.

Perception relies on having an inner model of reality that closely matches actual reality. The model is of the world as it is; with no value judgments placed upon it unless verified by both knowledge and experience. This is how we are able to make congruous sense of the world; we have a piece of information and we have an experience and they match up. We have a percept and we have a concept and they match up. Life makes sense, and the 'known' becomes an ever-growing powerhouse of ability and information as more and more congruous concepts are added to the model. We can predict the next parts of the 'story' and explore it to verify our accuracy. We can be given bits of information and test them to verify their accuracy. Every newborn mind is a better practical natural scientist than most people with PhDs.

Understanding the world, how it works and our place within it congruously gives us a strong confidence in our ability to interact with it, and this system, where every new organism comes to its own inner conclusions about the world, is one of biology's safety nets. Even if the entire human race went crazy and started believing that going outside was evil because the great god Boom created the universe out of sandpaper, the next generation could still make sense of the real world IF allowed to form its own inner model.

Sadly that safety net relies on having the freedom to encounter enough percepts that match up with our concepts; having our like-dislike judgments respected, and getting enough good input (true information) to build those early associations, and most of us don't get it; we get it replaced by wrong input. Our view of the world is then incongruous and doesn't make sense, and we are cast adrift in a sea of ever-increasing chaotic nonsense that we spend the rest of our lives getting confused by and quite reasonably feeling that we can't cope with.

Feeling that way is a sane response to insane circumstances; our biology drives us to do one thing, our false model tells us to do another. This is incongruity.

Not being able to make congruous sense of the world our lives and interactions robs us of meaning. We do a lot of things and say a lot of things and we don't really know why, and most of the time life doesn't make sense; we don't understand why this event happened or that event happened because we didn't expect it.

What we end up with in incongruous association is an inner portrayal of an ongoing series of apparently contradictory disconnected incidents, and that makes us anxious. Some may turn to superstition or religion to explain away the stuff that doesn't make sense to them, completely unaware that life makes perfect sense to those with congruous association. Others decide life is “all fucked up” and doesn't make any sense so give me another drink please; and a few refuse to give up and refuse to believe nonsense and keep on looking...



“You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world”.[20]

.

..and looking for answers and end up reading tutorials like this.

Fortunately the brain is fantastic and we can restructure congruous concept association at any age. We can land in biology's safety net after all and all will be well. But this time we get to jump in freely; we won't be held back and we won't be pushed.

To show you how the brain constructs a congruous model in the first place, we have made our own. It is a six-network model and it correlates with everything else in these tutorials and incorporates everything scientists currently (oct 2011) are able to prove about the brain.


Q -Why the 6-network model?

A -Students often ask this. Please get two things clear before we start: this is NOT our theory about how the brain works; it is a model of one possible way in which it could work; much like the 'standard model' of physics. Brain networks are not hexagons any more than subatomic particles are little billiard balls. The important thing to realize is that details of the model do not matter so much as grasping the process, and our model gives a good example of that process.

Nobody else, as far as we know, has a coherent testable unified model of the mind and brain. If you have one that predicts and explains developmental and experiment results as well as ours, be sure to send it in and we'll be delighted to use it.

Second thing to get clear: if any moron says 'ooh, its all about sixes, 666, woo woo woo', we will set you homework to design a ten-network model, then a seven-network model, and so on, for as long as it takes for you to get the point. Any model will do; the task is to understand how the mind can build its own inner model and use it as a base for all learning simply by associating a handful of concepts to make sense of everything.

We have based our model on the hexagon because it is the form biology uses in many circumstances of construction[19] including our own start in life:


 

...and because from the evidence on spatial modeling in N3 (see diagrams in section on grid cells, above), it appears the brain uses it too.

In the section above we looked at how grid cells can make a model of our spatial location by using the inner model; the abstract spatial structure that is constructed inside the brain and superimposed on every context by the brain irregardless of sensory input or actual features of the environment; categorising everything according to its location on this imagined 3D grid.

When we said everything, we meant everything; not just spatial locations but every single event in our experience, thought and memory.

When we stare at a simple pattern such as a grating, the image can be recognized in the neural pattern of activity in the brain. It is, however, distorted, and appears as though viewed through a fish-eye lens or projected onto a curved surface. This implies that N3's inner model is sitting on the underlying geometry of a hyperbolic grid (possibly a sphere) made up of hexagons. This correlates nicely with our six network model, so we see it as the simplest way of explaining the process.

Here is a picture of such a grid:

 

To understand the model you need to know the eidetic core concepts. You were born knowing them unconsciously, but we'll have to bring this awareness up into our conscious minds to restructure our associations around them.

There is no conscious knowledge involved here, and more than we are conscious of our heartbeats in ordinary circumstances. In understanding this, it helps to imagine yourself as an early human; a hunter-gatherer living in prehistory when no scientific knowledge of reality was available and all we had was experience. That's a good way of approaching any subject without any preconceptions, but it also helps you see how evolution has refined our core concepts via simple feedback from ourselves and our environment for such an incredibly long time (the whole of our time on this planet until around 10,000 years ago).

This is relevant to us because regardless of our lifestyle, where & when we live or who we are, core concepts do not change. They are timeless. Although our knowledge of them in the beginning is based solely on physical experience, the scientific laws that we later consciously learn are associated with them are real laws that cannot be broken, like those of gravity and thermodynamics.

The experience of reality an infant gets is much the same as the experience of reality a cavedweller perceived. No science was known to pre-linguistic early humans except what they could work out for themselves during one lifetime and manage to convey to each other by pictures, signs and miming. This is the context in which humanity's core concepts first formed. Everthing that came after, like language and tool use and science and art, was incorporated into the already existing model, as we will later see. For now, here are the 6 core concepts we start off with:

 

Core Eidetic Concepts

 

MATTER

The first core concept is matter. To the unconscious mind (or the cave dweller), the matter we encounter is concrete tactile material, material agents are physical hardware; objects, stuff, creatures, people and things. Matter has a solidity about it, you can feel it and hold it in your hands and carry some of it about. You eat some of it, you are made of some of it yourself, and you are wrapped supportively in it during your first 9 months or so of life. Some types of matter are dangerous and must be avoided, some types of matter are beneficial and should be sought after.

Matter is the first core concept because it is the first aspect of reality that we are able to confirm with our own experience via the senses. It is given a location on the inner map at rear left because this is the network area most needed for perceiving it and processing the behaviors of interacting with it. We associate matter with our starting point in life; that which surrounds and embodies us and gives us shelter and nourishment. On the behavioral level this associates with 'home' and the behaviors most likely to be needed there are cleaning, grooming, sleeping and giving birth. Our unconscious awareness of matter is a hard wired core concept for network 1; the network most required for the animal behaviors of rest, self care, birthing and hygiene.

 

SPACE

The second core concept is space. To the unconscious mind, the everyday space we move through, what place we are in, who is with us, and the conditions and behavior going on form the context for all that we encounter in the world, just as the brain's inner environment and the location of cells and networks in the brain form the context for all that cells encounter in the brain.

Spatial agents are concrete physical places, locations, landmarks. To survive in the real world, all mammals have to learn to negotiate their space effectively and seek out beneficial things that they need, while avoiding the harmful. Space is a hard wired core concept for network 2; the network most required for locomotion, exploration and physical ability and the animal behaviors of seeking, hunting, gathering, migration, courting and warning of danger.

 

DENSITY

The third core concept is density and it emerges automatically from combining the first and the second.

To the unconscious mind, density is about information importance, estimated from the number and intensity of things going on in one place and/or at one time.

This is a tricky concept to grasp unless you understand that network 3 has to allocate an importance 'weighting' to everything in its database and it does this by calculating signal density.

The hard wired concept of density allows us to understand quantity(number) and quality (type). This enables abilities that promote survival. Two bears went into the cave...only one came out. Two bears went into the cave...but they were only very small bears. A lot of things happen in place X. Not much happens in place Y. There are data density checksums going on here, and also a huge amount of translating concrete to abstract and back again, so closely associated concepts to density are numbers, codes, analogies and translation. Density is a hard wired core concept for network 3, the network most responsible for perception, imagination, learning, emotion and memory and the animal behaviors of befriending, bonding, mating and avoiding danger (freeze/fight/flight).

 

TIME

The fourth core concept is time. To the unconscious mind, spacetime is a continuum with a concrete end (space) and an abstract end (time). Time is the space between heartbeats. Before you invent measuring sticks you use your body; the number of heartbeats or paces it takes you to get somewhere tells you how far it is relative to other places. Space and time have one property in common in the way we think about them and that determines they share one side of the model, concrete space at the rear and abstract time at the front.

The property they share is our ability to assess them in terms of distance. In concrete (spatial) terms we know that some places are near and some places are far away. Unconsciously we imagine distance as the space between locations and locations as points in space; spatial landmarks.

In abstract (temporal) terms, the unconscious sees distance as the time between events; events are temporal 'landmarks'. Things, contexts and events all have length (duration), and there is a distance between events of the past, the here and now and events of the future. Time is a hard wired core concept for network 4; the network most responsible for procedures and synthesis and the animal behaviors of cooperation, creativity and construction, nest and home building, demonstrating skills to the young, and group interactive skills.

 

ENERGY

The fifth core concept is energy. To the unconscious mind, all 'stuff' (matter and energy) is a continuum; with a concrete end (matter) and an abstract end (energy). Energy changes matter big time. You have a body made of matter but it also contains energy that drives movement. Matter and energy have one property in common for us and that determines they share one side of the model, concrete matter at the rear and abstract energy at the front.What they have in common is our tenedncy to measure them both in terms of strength.

To the mind, matter is concrete material stuff that things are made of, and energy is abstract, non-material stuff that does things, but we learn from personal experience of our own bodies that energy is closely associated with both matter and resources. We know how our own bodies can experience feeling strong or weak, energetic or lethargic, depending on what resources they have, and we know that we feel short of energy and lacking in strength when we are hungry, ill or tired. We judge the current of a river in terms of its strength, and we see the matter around us transformed by fire, volcanoes, wind and storms, as effectively as it is transformed by hitting or cooking it. We also see that all living things seem to contain energy, that goes away when they die and is evident in abundance when they are strong. Energy is the stuff we experience that pushes and pulls, grows things and destroys things, causes movement, sound, heat, light, enables us to run a long way or fight a predator, buries villages in rock, and makes rocks explode. It can be sudden and unexpected like an avalanche or it can be regulated and controlled like our camp fire or our hunting strategy. Our unconscious awareness of energy is a hard wired core concept for network 5; the network most responsible for self esteem, analysis and assessment of resources and the animal behaviors of resource gathering, storing and allocating, display and gregariousness.

 

POWER

The sixth core concept is power and it emerges automatically from combining the fourth and the fifth but is also closely related to the third. To the unconscious mind, power is ability. In our own experience on the behavioral level we either have the power to move an object or we don't, on the abstract level we either have the power to move(inspire) others with a speech or we don't.

This is not the same concept as energy. In the real world, personal power is the ability to interact. It takes both strength and endurance, both energy and time.

The ability to interact is the measure of the adaptability of things, contexts, events, constructs, ourselves and our lives. When core concepts were forming, a creature's social status was based on this ability. The one with the best adaptation ability (of both self and context) was obviously 'the fittest'. The specialist tools humans have for survival are the factors of intelligence. These tools add much more adaptation potential than bigger bodies, better camoflage or extra senses. With intelligence we can create our own investigation, strength and protection tools right here in the real world.

The aim of all output is optimal interaction, because that's how we get the best outcome in every event and optimal success for the organism. Power as ability is a hard wired core concept for network 6; the network most responsible for the animal behaviors of planning, strategizing, coordination and communication.

 

These are the coordinates of our six core concepts; our 'starter pack' of bits of meaning.

Each of the ‘bits’ of input data (percepts) sent to N3 that matches a 'bit' of meaning (concept) is tagged with a reference that indicates a set of coordinates for an actual physical area somewhere in this grid, close to the concept/s it most associates with (the more identical it is, the closer it will be). For example all material objects will be sent to the 'matter' area for identification and processing.

At each core location, the grid subdivides fractally to emcompass subsets of things with the same core concept and the same differences:

 

Here we have filled out two of the sections with their subdivisions (if we filled them all out, it would look far too confusing, but these two examples make the point.)

 

What it's important to grasp is that each subdivision further subdivides into the same 6 categories, ad infinitum. This already provides a self-similar iterative system that enables ever more complex categorization, but its real secret is its ability to translate anything into its own format, and this is accomplished by each core concept coding for multiple meanings.

Firstly, each core concept has concrete meanings and abstract meanings.

We are accustomed to some words having multiple meanings; for example the words “Set”, “Course” and “Run” can mean a lot of different things depending on their context, and the core concepts have this same flexibility of meaning. We will give you an example using the core concept 'space'.

Secondary associations connect with the cores. To the unconscious mind the concept “Space” (for example) can mean:

 

(space related to matter):

The room between bits of matter (is there enough space for this to fit into my cave?)

The position of our body with relation to context (proprioception)

(Just Space):

Known places

Territory

(Space + density):

The real world; the great unexplored outdoors

Our mood (what sort of space is s/he in?)

(Space + time):

The sky +outer space

Your occupational place in your tribe or group culture (mother, elder, herbalist, storyteller, hunter)

(Space + energy):

A resource (we need enough space to...)

Your status as an autonomous being in the big picture

(Space + power):

Your personal space (you're in my space, man!)

How much room for maneuvering you have in interactions (possibilities open to you)

 

 

Every location on the model is associated with different perceived properties of each core concept. This doesn't mean properties as in physics; remember the unconscious mind has no science knowledge apart from experience. For example experience tells us that things occurring in outer space, up in the sky have order and regularity and repetition -it goes dark and then it gets light again, and we can use the behavior of objects in space to tell the time of day and year, so outer space is associated with time and will be subcategorized in “Space + time” (millions of years later, after it has invented language and technology and science, humanity will call it 'spacetime'. Core concepts are timeless and cross-cultural; only the details we know will differ). Whether they are called Ug, Og and Ag; represented by pictures of nature spirits or pictures of the standard model, their constants are their units of meaning, which are based on reality and will not change. This is why it doesn't matter what model you use, as long as association is congruous.

 

Also, every location on the model is associated with different animal behaviors, so the organism is primed for response as soon as identification is made.

Hopefully you are now beginning to see how anything in everyday existence with sufficient points of similarity to any known concept can be superimposed on the grid and its location area coordinates determined.

Immediately a location can be pinpointed for an item, there is a wealth of information available associated with that location; types of behaviors that may be involved, events that are likely to take place, materials likely to be involved, procedures likely to be needed, useful memories of facts, resources, abilities, things to watch out for, and so on. Items that do not exactly fit any existing set will form a new concept (and for this, a new set of synapses must be built in the brain.) This is how we learn; by assimilating the unknown into the body of the known.

As we develop, the inner model together with memory becomes a concept database; a representation of all that is 'known' to the organism; all that has meaning for it. The more we learn, the more densely connected it gets.

To identify the unknown, we use imagination to construct images of the objects, events or behaviors (percepts) that best associate with the incoming signal patterns and then compare them with images from the database of the known. By doing this hundreds of millions of times per second, we project innerly ‘the movie’ that we think is going on ‘out there’.

Rendering detailed moving images from scant bits of information is something imagination excels at, but you needn't take our word for it. The percepts formed and presented for comparison are even accessible to translation by a computer if it can pick up the brain's information! If you have any doubts about what imagination is doing with reality, follow up this reference and see it for yourself[3].

Everything from initial input to eventual output has to go through N3; (for rearloaders: It is like the gatekeeper program; it is guarding all the doors, it is holding all the keys.) (For frontloaders: The percept is part of a cipher whose general algorithm is substitution used by N1 & 2, and N3 has the keys part specifying which substitutions are usable. Both have to meet each other halfway.)

Hardware (concrete matter & space) merges with software (mental processes of perception & understanding) when codes (percepts) are given meaning (match concepts).

If the message is translated by the key, recognition (re-cognition) happens. There in the interaction between percept and concept, perception emerges.

Perception is an emergent property of the interaction between imagination and reality.

 

 


 

Imagination & perception in learning

No concept can have its association database unlocked and no percept can be interpreted (perceived) unless the input message is in a cipher that can be translated by the key.

Learning is an emergent property of the interaction between the known and the unknown.

Learning begins from conception and can go on until death, with the right input. It is a natural process that needs no interference apart from guidance when asked.

All we need to 'know' to start association with the first core concepts is how to compare things and determine 'same or different'.

Each core concept enables us to construct an understanding of one main aspect of reality and its perceived properties as a set of associated concepts. We can 'map' the differences between objects, places, events etc and separate them by distance and position on the inner model. The larger the differences between things, the bigger the distance between their concepts on the inner model, and their relative position represents the type of difference.

Every living organism has a direct learning relationship with the world, in behavioral terms that is about what it can do in the world and what might happen to it there. Experience adds associations constantly.

The observed properties of core concepts add associations to the model. When you don't know any physics, the earth (the biggest lump of matter you know) pulls things towards it. Things thrown away from it always come back. Things that go out exploring and hunting also return to the same material place and bring back gathered stuff -home. The earth is our home. Things that go out in the daytime come back to their beds at night.

The unconscious mind associates matter with 'being pulled inwards' to a place where there is less activity going on, and these become secondary concepts. We learn that concepts associated with matter are likely to be associated with keeping still, gathering stuff together in one place, relaxing, the 'known', and moving inwards.

Likewise, when you don't know any physics, all you know about the space outside is that it's necessary to go out there to do stuff and to get stuff and to get rid of stuff, and sometimes to go on big journeys to explore stuff. The mind associates space with 'moving outwards' from the home base and this becomes an added concept. We move out to hunt and to seek food, to find a mate or a waterhole.

In material association we stayed still and gathered together a critical mass of similar concepts of known objects & basic materials. In spatial association we need to get out there and move around; seek the subjects of our interest, explore the unknown, and learn about our context.

Together, these two types of movement form the stretch-relax process of learning.

When network 1 has a basic plan of what things are (a critical mass of concepts in its database to grasp the basics of material reality), on the behavioral level intent switches to sending us out looking for more by exploring spatial reality, while more biological resources are simultaneously diverted from external growth (the basic increasing of size) to internal growth (the details of developing more connections in the bits of body and brain networks that will enable the physical abilities for such exploration). Our long range senses of sight and hearing come fully into play, our muscles develop tone and increase in strength as well as size.

By exploring and mapping the positions of our own bodies in relation to space through sensorimotor biofeedback on the inner model, we can learn enough control over our bodies to walk and talk and start exploring the real world and mapping that too.

When network 2 has a critical mass of spatial concepts in its database, Network 3 begins constructing an understanding of the relationships between events and behavior, and intent drives us with an apparently insatiable curiosity and desire to interact.

To survive in the real world the organism must know what things, places and types of events are likely to be helpful or harmful to it and it must have its priorities in the right order. This means the mind must understand what is important in the real world and be able to discriminate from the earliest signals benefits from dangers.There are material benefits (useful things) spatial benefits (useful places) and there are beneficial events (useful behavior), and the same is true of dangers.

To form valid benefit/harm judgments we must be allowed to form equally valid like/dislike judgments; free from any externally imposed value judgments (especially those that are incongruous with the existing model). Unconsciously there is no value judgment applied to events at first, apart from what we like and dislike; the mind trusts biology absolutely. Beneficial weightings are simply awarded to percepts that come in densely enough to attract and sustain attention but not so dense as to cause sensory overload. Percepts outside this boundary in either direction are weighted 'harmful'. Exactly the right amount of good input creates the mind's “goldilocks zone” for development & learning; the optimal rate of input density for our abilities of assimilation in real time. As we get more experienced, this zone widens. Wrong input simply causes sensory overload.

In developing networks 1- 3 we are mastering the art of adapting ourselves to better fit in with the needs of the environment & circumstances; this is one of the two main abilities ensuring an organisms success.

N1 taught you who and what are the agents and what they are like. N2 taught you where's the context and what it's like there. That gave you all the basics. Network 3 puts it all together and tells you the details of what's going on and which bits are important.

 

Q: We're going to pause here and ask you something...does this pattern of development seem familiar to you?

...First, the model gathered the basics...then, it started to fill in the details...

-What process does this describe as well as the ordering of our concept association?

 

A: These are the first two stages of COMP.

Learning is an abstract as well as a concrete process (concretely, synapses are formed, as abstractly, concepts are formed) and by association the stages of the abstract process mirror the stages of the concrete process.

 

This is really important:

The process underlying the learning cycle is the abstract version of the process underlying all concrete growth. It is the same process as that used by association, and the same process is even used in perception itself.

The first stage of COMP is the same as the first stage of growth and the first stage of association. The exact same process is required: gather together a critical mass of similar things, then move out seeking the details that are still unknown.

In the case of concrete growth, 'a critical mass of similar things' means cells, and 'moving out' means the process of morphogenesis (cells literally move out to their intended future locations). In the case of association it refers to material concepts, then ever more abstract concepts. In the case of learning, it means gathering together sufficient density of bits of data, facts, basics, examples of the already known, to trigger the next stage of seeking the unknown details that furnish us with a fuller picture. In the case of perception, it means the percept must have a critical mass (sufficient density) of points of similarity to the concept, in order to be understood.

The same process that directs the growth of brain hardware is re-employed to direct concept formation, the learning cycle, and the behavior of mind software.

This process is the basis of both life and intelligence. It is, in a way, all intelligence does; employs this same process to different and ever more complex agents. It is the process of emergence, and it leads to both life evolving and intelligence emerging.

Understanding and working with this process is our aim during intermediate tutorials, both in the interests of congruity and NH practicality. If you know the underlying process behind what is going on, you can immediately tell what stage of unfolding eveything has reached; including yourself!

We'll show you the application of the same process in memory formation in the next tutorial.

 


 

 

NHA Guide to Methods & Technology

There is plenty of tech for NH. You don’t have to use any of it, if you prefer to use other techniques that don’t involve technology. If you know you are a technophobe though, that’s not a good reason not to try it. It’s sensible to try out all possibilities for beneficial things and then decide what we prefer or what works best for us. Intelligent people don't judge experiences (or tech) until after they've tried it. If you can’t afford any tech at all, you can either go somewhere to try it out (e.g. a Homeworld Embassy; see Homeworld section)

Or you can borrow some (many of our members are happy to lend), or you can do without and focus on other methods (you still won’t miss out; your NH experience will just be a bit less varied).

You can decide which sort of ‘mind machine’ may be best for you by looking at the ‘F’ scores on your FA. If you got low ‘F’ scores for rear nets, you’ll progress fastest with sensory & spatial feedback. You can use a sound/light machine for this, and a fairly typical not-too-expensive machine that some of us here use is the “Proteus”

 

The Proteus is a light and sound product that combines light and sound stimulation or allows you to use them separately. It interfaces with a PC and has programming capabilities, so when you get to know what you’re doing you can program your own sessions. It produces two independent color channels, each of which has its own brightness and pulse rate. It can create some quite extraordinary visuals and maps colors to states of consciousness.

It has Windows 98+ hosted programming tools, available free. It uses Flash memory for both session and operating system data. You can download new session groups from their online site into the system, and the system can also be upgraded. It offers features such as wavetable crossfading; dual binaural beats and real-time biofeedback control. You can store up to four different waveforms in Proteus, and they include an audio waveform creation tool with the bundled software.

 

Proteus interfaces with another biofeedback machine called the Thought Stream; a GSR unit that can feed your data into the Proteus, which responds accordingly. It also uses a system called AudioStrobe that enables you to use music as part of your feedback.

Fifty preset programs come with the Proteus, but it has plenty of space remaining for you to download your own creations—about 2,000 segments altogether in two separate banks.

 

When you first start using it, Proteus software can seem very complicated. If you’re just starting off, you may not know what things like binaural beats are, but it doesn’t matter. You can increase your use of features as you learn more, so it’s a useful machine to grow with because you can start with the basics right away. It's also at a reasonable price compared to many similar offerings.

There are a couple of small points against it. One is, it looks like a toy and comes in awful colors. Most of us who use one have spray painted it something more decent.

Also, it needs 3 x AA alkaline batteries, not included. 110 volt (USA) and 220 volt (Europe) AC power adapters are available but you have to pay extra. Any universal voltage adapter will do, however, and these are not expensive, or you can make a small hole in the case and solder in a DC mains socket.

If you’d rather build your own l/s machine, there are instructions in the ‘technology’ files section. These days (2011) the price of products has reduced and the price of materials risen, so you don't save so much as you used to unless you can scavenge your parts for free.

 

GSR:

GSR Biofeedback has long been accepted as one of the most effective tools available for the control of stress and for intelligence augmentation. GSR machines can help you get into the state of mind that improves your memory. This helps all memory networks, but especially 1&2. The most accurate inexpensive GSR machines we’ve found are the Thought Stream and the GSR 2 with ‘CalmLink’.

ThoughtStream

ThoughtStream uses a non-sticky palm-of-the-hand sensor which is pretty comfortable. There’s an online program to explore more advanced facets of GSR available at no charge.

ThoughtStream also works with a software package called Mental Games, and you may get Mental Games Levels I and II free with the unit. It can also interface with and control the Proteus system (above).

 

GSR II with ‘CalmLink’

The biofeedback machine is called GSR 2. [GSR II]. CalmLink is biofeedback software for Windows. It uses a multifunction graph, game animations and lots of sound choices to customize your feedback. GSR 2 is small, fits into your palm, has a very comfortable finger-rest sensor and looks and feels like a mouse [a computer mouse; not a rodent!] You can also get a temperature sensor, but this costs extra. CalmLink is specifically designed to run with all existing GSR2 and GSR/Temp2X systems. It works in Windows 98/98SE; ME; 2000 and XP, it has just released a Windows 7 version, we don’t know about Vista or XP 64-bit. GSR II is probably the cheapest reliable system you’ll currently find.

 

EMG, used for biofeedback, can improve rear networks and also help you become aware of where muscular tension builds up and how to relax. It makes you much more aware of your body and as that happens, rear networks will improve.

The electromyogram (EMG) measures muscle tension. Two electrodes (or sensors) are placed on your skin over the muscle to be monitored. The most common muscles that biofeedback practitioners use are the frontalis (the "frowning" muscle in your forehead), the masseter (jaw muscle), and the trapezium (the shoulder muscles that hunch when you're stressed). Biofeedback with this machine is also utilized after disabling injury and to rehabilitate patients paralyzed by stroke. Even when a person has no sensation in a paralyzed limb and cannot move it voluntarily, EMG can often detect some electrical activity in the muscles. The EMG machine amplifies the electrical sounds emitting from the paralyzed limb and feeds them back to the patient via audio. As the patient becomes aware of the activity, their nervous system can stimulate more muscle activity. Plasticity being what it is, new nerve endings may eventually grow in the affected muscles and the patient regain more mobility.

EMG has also been used for the treatment of tension headaches, backache, neck pain, and bruxism as well as in the stress related illnesses such as asthma and ulcers. It is also used by athletes in strength training.

In NH EMG is normally used to promote relaxation in muscles that have become tense in response to stress. When the electrodes pick up on muscle tension, the machine gives you a signal, such as a colored light or sound. In this way, you can see or hear continuous monitoring of your muscle activity and begin to focus on what the activity (or tension) feels like. As you become more aware of this internal process, you will begin to recognize in your daily life when tension starts to build. You then can use the techniques you learn in the biofeedback training to control the tension before it gets worse or causes other physical problems, and learn to initiate a full relaxation response.

It’s not easy to find a cheap reliable EMG machine. The cheapest one we found was called “Antense”, but the one we ordered didn’t work! MyoTrac portable is the next cheapest at $450-500 (2011 price), we haven’t tried it.

 

A reminder of some benefits of biofeedback:

 

  1. Learning to control psychological stress and overcome anxiety

  2. Improving focus and concentration

  3. Gaining control of your emotional states

  4. Enhancing your meditation experience

  5. Learning to lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

 

CES

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) is the application of low-level pulsed electrical currents (usually less than 1 milliampere) applied to the head for medical and/or psychological purposes. There is now over 20 years of medical experience with CES. Presently, its use requires a prescription by a licensed health practitioner in the U.S. Fortunately it is available without a prescription throughout the rest of the world online, so yah boo to the FDA.

In NH CES can pull a nice ‘balancing act’ on early networks and assist equilibrium of association (helping you to learn faster and remember things more easily).

There is a selection of CES units around, the cheapest one we found was the BT-7 Brain Tuner CES. We haven’t tried it, so if you have, let us know your results.

 

NMS

NMS is Neuro Magnetic Stimulation, at much weaker levels than TMS but still effective in its own way. NMS is a super tool for dealing with over- or under-active Amys and Hippos.

If you got a low 'F' score for N3, you might consider NMS because it has specific programs for these areas. An example of an NMS machine with the required program can be found here:

www.spiritualbrain.com

Don’t be misled by the website; NMS can be used for many other purposes apart from spiritual ones; notably the treating of depression without drugs. We currently don’t know anyone else making these machines and they are quite expensive ($650) (2011) so if you want to consider a DIY option on this send us an email for the details.


Other stuff for N3: The ‘Proteus’ machine mentioned above with the program ‘Audio Strobe’. This is particularly useful for improving memory in N3.

 

If you got a low 'F' score for N4, We'd recommend the 'ThoughtStream' with its 'Mental Games' program, which should improve this network.

Also, Direct feedback from GSR to light/sound. Sounds complicated, but isn’t. Several machines are built with this in mind. The Proteus [above] interfaces with the Thought Stream for this purpose, but you can wire an EEG up to a synthesiser, a sound-to-light machine, or a sound-to-pattern program like ‘Dancer DNA’ [view here]:

http://www.sonicspot.com/dancerdna/dancerdna.html

If you are using sound/light machines, set a program that helps you shift into alpha rhythm.

NMS can help this network if you also have an over/underactive amygdala.

 

If you got a low ‘F’ score for N5, you can use NMS to improve this if you also have an over/underactive amygdala.

Also, Using an EEG as biofeedback would help you associate analog with digital information. This can be a problem if N5 is underactive.

If you are using sound/light machines, set a program that helps you move into beta rhythm.


If you got a low ‘F’ score for N6, NMS can also help out. Use the ‘frontal lobes’ program in the software.

Also, N6 responds well to improvement in all other networks, so if you’ve done things in the right order, by the time you get to working on it you may find all the work has been done, network 6 has improved itself, and you are now looking at enhancement on top of upgrading.

If it’s not gotten that good yet, no worries! You can use sound/light machines to help you learn how to move from alpha into beta rhythm and back again. This will train up N6 for greater flexibility and performance.

 

DO IT NOW

 

Practical Assignment 1

Imagination Assessment

For the first three batches, put an 'X' beside all those that apply to you. If you are not sure, leave them blank. For batch 4, try to answer the questions.

Batch 1: Does this happen to you:

[ ]I cry at emotional bits in movies.

[ ]My imagination persistently generates images and fantasies without any conscious effort on my part.

[ ]I see patterns & images in cloud formations, tree bark, smoke, abstract art etc.

[ ]My fantasies frequently produce unexpected themes.

[ ]I get ideas that I think would make a good movie or book.

[ ]Elaborate imaginary themes often come to me instantaneously, seemingly out of nowhere.

[ ]When designing or inventing something, or when participating in artistic activities, my imagination often directs the process with little mental deliberation.

[ ]My imagination produces elaborate scenarios in an instant without prior deliberation on the theme.

[ ]I am sometimes astonished at the scenarios my imagination generates.

[ ]If someone is late without explanation I tend to get concerned for their wellbeing.

[ ]I doodle a lot absent-mindedly.

[ ]If I watch someone biting into a lemon and sucking the juice out, my mouth waters.

[ ]If someone else yawns, I have to join in.

[ ]I frequently find myself imagining future possibilities, even when I have not chosen to do so.

[ ]When a close friend feels anything strongly, my imagination automatically generates an internal image of their predicament, helping me to understand what they are feeling.

[ ]My dreams usually have a storyline or apparent plot.

 

Batch 2: Do you do this:

[ ]I often do not take control of an imaginative experience, but allow the contents, direction and spatial characteristics of the presentation to direct themselves.

[ ]I deliberately imagine interesting or extreme life situations sometimes, such as being marooned on a desert island or earth being visited by aliens.

[ ]When I retell a story, I tend to embellish it so it will be more interesting.

[ ]I tend to terminate imagination exercises once I have reached a pre-determined or desired goal of the activity.

[ ]I can lucid dream on purpose without tech or drugs.

[ ]I like to read or listen to stories to inspire my imagination.

[ ]I tend to guide the direction of my imaginative processes, rather than relying on the possibility that imagination will autonomously guide the process.

[ ]I do a lot of stuff that involves the imagination (writer, artist, musician, architect, engineer etc.)

[ ]I sometimes deliberately imagine funny or weird things happening to amuse myself.

[ ]I usually terminate impractical or unwanted imaginal exercises by distracting myself, emptying my mind, or by initiating a brand new exercise in imagination.

[ ]If I'm crying at a movie I can stop doing so immediately if I want to.

[ ]I imagine myself doing things quite often in a detailed way.

[ ]After I've seen a good movie, I often replay bits in my head.

[ ]I tend to allow imaginative experiences to reach their own natural conclusion, rather than me calling a halt to the activity

[ ]I can make my mouth water by imagining biting into a lemon.

[ ]I am good at mimicking accents, expressions or voices.

 

Batch 3: Is this true of you:

[ ]The images and scenarios of my imagination usually take me time and persistence to construct.

[ ]The products of my imagination are usually ones that I initiate; i.e. they generally don’t come on their own.

[ ]Imagining is an act I choose to commence; it is rarely something that just “happens to me”.

[ ]My imagination is usually not spontaneous and surprising, but rather is used/employed in a more controlled fashion.

[ ]I use my imagination mainly for practical means, eg., like how to work out a problem or construct a useful idea or object.

[ ]The products of my imagination take considerable effort to construct.

[ ]When I imagine something I always control the contents, direction, spatial character, and duration of the imagined scenario.

[ ]I can use my imagination but rarely do, spending most of my mental powers using logic and analysis.

 

Batch 4: (answers at end of tutorial[23])

What does this mean?: E=3rd P in SS

What does this mean?: WF @ 0DC, or 32DF


Scoring for questions:
Batch 1: There are sixteen “does this happen to you” questions. Count 2 points per question you answered "Yes, that happens to me."

Batch 2: There are sixteen”do you do this” questions: Add 3 points per question you answered "Yes, I do that."

Batch 3: There are eight “is this true of you” questions. Add 1 point per question you answered "Yes, that's true of me."

Batch 4: There are two 'what does this mean' questions. The answers are at the end of the tutorial. Score 3 points for each one you got right.

Your maximum possible score is 126

If you scored:

Equal to or less than 42 = low imagination skills

Scores of 43 to 84 = average imagination skills.

Equal to or greater than 85 = strong imagination skills.

 

Batch 1 (the “does this happen to you” questions) are testing your spontaneous imagination. Whilst psychological health is usually characterized by a high degree of spontaneous imagination[22], there are notable exceptions to this rule in which a florid imagination without any control accompanied by high anxiety can portend psychological disorder such as may be found in delusional, or schizoid states for example.

Batches 2 and 4 (the “what does this mean” questions and the “do you do this” questions) are testing your controlled imagination. This is an indicator for creativity as well as imagination. Whilst a high degree of controlled imagining correlates with psychological health and creativity, there are exceptions where anxiety disorders involving obsessive/compulsive behavior or over-intellectualisation can be indicated.

If you are anxiety-free (or at least have it under control) however, this assessment gives you a straighforward view of how much spontaneous (batch 1) versus controlled (batches 2 & 4) imagination you use. In ideal circumstances there should be a good level of both.

Batch 3 ('is this true of you' questions) gives you a cheeky bonus: if you answered yes to many of these you may have a poor understanding of imagination. If this is true, even if your imagination and creativity skills are good you are missing out on much higher potential. Learn more about the nature of imagination and different ways of using it, and new skills will open up to you.

  

Practical Assignment 2:

Making Congruous Associations

Don't worry if you don't have a clue! Just play with the idea and see how you get on. Answers at end of tutorial [24].

Which eidetic core concept/s seem to associate most with each item?:

[Example: A heap of sand =MATTER]


A pebble

An eyelash

A jungle

A load of people pulling a horse out of a bog

A big village

A banana

A party

An earthquake

Buffalo poop

The moon

A cave

Kissing someone you find attractive

The big oak tree half way to the water hole

The water hole

A hunting spear

A hunt

Stocktaking

A software program

A computer

An explosion

A successful diplomatic meeting

Silk

A silk necktie

The silkworm tree

DNA

A complicated problem

Tools

Seasons

Order

Resources

Being in someones arms

Machines

Open grassland

The air

Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Ass

 

 


 


Towards Entelechy 

 

"Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited.
Imagination encircles the world."

Albert Einstein

***

 Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace.

 

John Lennon

***

A Samurai student once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of Heaven and Hell.

But the Sensei replied with scorn saying “You’re nothing but a lout, I can’t waste my time with the likes of you.You're ugly, and your haircut's shit.”

His very honor attacked in front of all his friends, the Samurai flew into a rage and pulling his sword from it’s scabbard yelled, “I could kill you for your impertinence.”

“You just allowed yourself to be conquered and enslaved by fear,” the Sensei calmly replied, “And that, is Hell.”

Startled at seeing the truth the master had pointed out about the anger and anxiety that had him in its grip, the Samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword and bowed, laughing and thanking the master for the insight.

“You just set yourself free from fear,” the master replied, embracing him, “And that, is Heaven.”

 

 The Most Important Bits to Remember

 

Hopefully by now you have a basic grasp of what eidetic core concepts are about. The core concepts are very basic representations of natural phenomena that all living creatures experience and how they relate to each other, and all future processing takes this into account. It can take a while to get used to these concepts and you should not be concerned if you just don't 'get it' at this stage.

We're going to spend a moment now remembering some of the things we already know and looking at how they fit together with what we are learning here.

The first thing we learned about in these tutorials was the golden rules. You'll remember that the rules associate with certain networks. The second thing we learned about in these tutorials was networks, and it’s pretty easy to see how things fit together at this stage because we now know the core concepts associated with each network.

 

Core categories

matter

space

density

time

energy

power

Golden rules

If the brain doesn't get what it needs, the mind won't do what you want

Behave as though it's happening and the brain will think it's happening

You become more like whatever you are surrounded by

Cells that fire together wire together

Know yourself

Always do things in the right order

Networks

1

2

3

4

5

6

 

Network 1 is where we process material objects and materials, and this is a rule about material needs of the brain. N2 processes information about our context; our territory and the behavior in it, and this is a rule about behavior.

N3 is where imagination enables perception, where new memories are made and weighted by density of input, where modeling and empathy are enabled, and is also one of the areas where the most adult neurogenesis happens. Perhaps you can't quite see the associations here yet, but you almost certainly will when we tell you that the overall processing task of N3 is to work out how to adapt the organism to better fit in with its context.

Hopefully you can see why N4, its related golden rule, core concept and procedural processing are associated.

 

Q: Can you see why N5 is connected with the rule ‘know yourself’ and the core concept 'energy'?

 

A: This really confused some of us for a while, until we remembered that we are dealing with the unconscious associations of these terms; not their conscious ones. Energy to the unconscious is about resources and about your own strength and status as an autonomous being. If you are self sufficient in your resource acquisition, and wise in your resource allocation, you are independant and strong enough (you have enough energy) to assist others (such as your children) to achieve independence themselves.

 

Rule 6, “Always do things in the right order”, is the secret of good planning, strategy and successful interaction. If you remember, power to the unconscious mind means the ability to interact.

You should note these associations down in your NH diary, as from now on we will be putting more concepts together in this association table, after each tutorial.

 


 

 

DO IT NOW

 

HACKS -for network 3


  • Hack sensorimotor input (and watch imagination 'get it wrong')

This is a very old trick known as the ‘Aristotle illusion’. You need a small spherical solid thing, the size of a dried pea, rabbit turd, piece of blu-tak or plasticene etc. Cross your fingers, then align the object so you can touch it with the tips of both fingers, close your eyes, and touch it.

It feels like you are touching two peas. Your mind can’t imagine why the hell you would go around touching things with your fingers crossed, and it doesn’t compute. If you look at the object while touching the effect will wear off (but can be surpisingly persistent).

 

[NEEDS ASSISTANT] Now get two different objects of this kind. Cross your fingers, close your eyes and then touch the two different objects simultaneously - a piece of Blu Tack and a dried pea, say - one with each fingertip. [You will need assistant to guide your fingers onto the objects] This is a variation of the same hack. It’s not so reliable, but if it works your sense of touch will tell you that the objects are the opposite way round from where they actually are.

 

There's also the reverse Aristotle illusion: cross your fingers, close your eyes and touch the inside of a corner of a room or a box. This time, because the wall is contacting the insides of your fingertips, you should feel one surface, not two. Some people even experience three.

A similar effect can be achieved by holding your hands in front of you with palms down. Close your eyes and get somebody to lightly tap the back of both hands once, one after the other, with as short an interval as possible between the taps. Open your eyes and wave the hand that was tapped first. You'll get it right every time. Now do it again with crossed arms. If the taps are sufficiently close together - less than 300 milliseconds or so - you'll get it wrong a lot of the time.

Surprisingly, the illusion can also be made to work with sticks. Hold two wooden spoons out in front of you, one in each hand, with arms uncrossed, and get somebody to tap the ends of the spoons in quick succession. Again, you automatically know which stick was tapped first. But cross the spoons (not your arms) over and you'll get it wrong. Even more weirdly, if you cross your arms and the spoons, the two crossings-over cancel each other out and it again becomes obvious which one was tapped first


  • Reveal the influence of eidetic association on cognition

[needs assistant/s –great fun at parties!]

Get hold of two cardboard boxes of different sizes and put a brick in each one. Check they weigh the same, then seal them. Get somebody to lift them and guess which is the heavier. The vast majority of people will say that the smaller box is heavier, even though it isn't, and will continue to maintain that it is even after looking inside both boxes and lifting them several times.

This "perceptual size-weight illusion" is very robust. So much so that it works even if the smaller box is slightly lighter. Even labelling two identical boxes "heavy" and "light" can pull the same trick. Experiments show that even though people initially use greater force to lift the larger box than the smaller one, on subsequent lifts they unconsciously equalise the amount of force they use to lift them. Despite networks 1 & 2 apparently "knowing" that the boxes weigh the same, N3’s association still perceives the smaller box as being heavier.

If you do this a lot, N3 will suss you out eventually and over-conpensate in the opposite direction (the effect will reverse, and the larger box will now seem heavier.

 

Using your imagination to speed up learning

Imagine how you would currently answer the question from a new student “Hey dude, what is neurohacking?” It’s not an easy question to answer clearly and simply, is it? Where would you start?

Now spend a couple of moments considering how would you answer a student who asked the questions below:

  • So, what’s the best cure for anxiety?

  • How does memory work?

  • I don’t understand this ‘stretch-relax’ thing, can you explain it to me?

  • What do neurotransmitters do in the brain?

Whatever answers you come up with, you’ll notice that (even if you’ve read the tutorials lots and really know your subject) these questions are not ever easy to answer in a simple way. It’s a good habit to make up questions like this for yourself. Imagine teaching the subject you are learning about. Think about what your students would need to know first in order to understand later ideas. Whenever you are learning, imagine how you will use what you are learning. There is so much information (especially if you’re following up theory in the files), but only a small part of it is the "important practical NH stuff" that you need to actually use. By imagining how you'll use any new information, you’ll tend to automatically focus on the things you really need to know. This also aids in retention of the new information, as you understand how it is relevant to the hacks and exercises we do. Association rules OK.


PLAY with perception

These hacks are fun for some, but can scare some people. They are not essential, but they are here to give you a conscious real life experience of the nature of rear net processing. If you don’t feel comfortable about doing them and prepared for a bit of a surprise, miss it out. It's not wise to do these on drugs the first time unless you are adept.

  • Experience the gap in input between ‘stills’ forming in N1 & 2

To build up a big picture, your eyes constantly dart about, fixating for a fraction of a second and then moving on. These jerky movements between fixations are called saccades, and we make about three per second, each lasting between 20 and 200 microseconds.

The curious thing about saccades is that while they are happening we are effectively blind. The brain doesn't bother to process information picked up during a saccade because the eyes move too rapidly to capture anything useful.

Despite the fact that you don't normally notice saccades, you can catch them in action.

Look at your eyes close-up in the mirror and flick your focus back and forth from one pupil to another. However hard you try you cannot see your eyes move - even though somebody watching you can. That's because the motion is a saccade, and your brain isn't paying attention. Now pick two spots in opposite corners of your visual field and flick your gaze from one to the other and back again. If you're lucky you'll notice, just barely, a brief flash of darkness. This is your visual cortex clocking off.

Normally, continuity of experience relies on imagination as your memories retain information from previous fixations and integrate them into your here-and-now visual experience.

  • You can also do ‘freeze frame’ by very suddenly looking at a clock with a second hand, and noticing that it seems to take a second or so to get ‘up to speed’.

If your eyes happen to alight on the clock just after the second hand has moved, your brain assumes that the hand was in that location for the duration of ‘previous frame’ too. The "second" then lasts about 10 per cent longer than normal, which is enough for you to notice.

 

  • Hack proprioception association [NEEDS AN ASSISTANT]

Hold your arms out in front of you and cross them over, rotate your hands so your palms face each other, then mesh your fingers together. Now slowly rotate your hands up between your arms so you're staring at your knuckles. Ask someone to point to one of your index fingers, then attempt to move it. Did you move the wrong one?

Congruous proprioception association fails because of a confusing visual input. You don't normally see your hands in this convoluted position and your mind certainly doesn't expect them to be there; the finger you move is the one that is pointing in the direction that the correct one would be pointing if you had simply clasped your hands.

 

[NEEDS ASSISTANT] If you want to go all the way in confusing proprioception, repeat the research above: get hold of a model hand (it doesn't have to be very realistic) and put it on the table in front of you. If it is a left hand, put your actual left hand somewhere you can't see it, in the same pose as the rubber hand. Now get someone to touch and stroke your unseen hand and the rubber hand with identical movements. If you concentrate on the rubber hand, you will probably get the uncanny feeling that it is your own. If you get an assistant to unexpectedly punch the fake arm after you have played with it for a while, you will jump in expectancy of pain.

Imagination will happily override information from proprioception to conjure up an incorrect yet coherent body schema based on vision and touch.

 

  • Adepts only: If you do this on hallucinogens or even cannabis, you can go much further than the 'fake arm' researchers and convince yourself that pretty much anything is part of your body. Sit at a table and put your hand out of sight underneath. Get someone to tap and stroke this hand while doing exactly the same to the table top directly above. If you watch the table top, you may experience the illusion that the table has become part of your body. Warning: some experiments may cause bouts of giggling.

  •  

  • Input control hacks using imagination

     

    Because image based formats are understood and used by all networks, your imagination affects both conscious and unconscious processing and you can always use imagination to your advantage in NH. Carpet-bomb yourself with inspiration, real facts and artefacts that inspire you, and images of information you want to learn.

    Even simple moves like leaving a study diagram on your desktop will allow it to creep into your unconscious every time you boot up without you having to consciously learn anything. Keep your favorite inspiring quotes or stuff you need to remind yourself of on your desktop or wall.

    Remember when you speak aloud or even read silently your unconscious mind listens to you and turns those words into imagery. Always strive for clarity and honesty because you’re talking to your own unconscious mind every time you talk to others. The clearer and less anxious you can be with others, the clearer and less anxious you will be yourself.

    Don't allow crap into your imagination. If you find yourself watching, listening to or reading anything and you think it’s a lot of BS, stop paying attention to it.

    Put down the book, change the subject, turn off the video. Find something that will benefit you; you don’t want crap in your mind. Don’t get all caught up in analyzing why it’s crap, just flush it away. That’s what crap is for; flushing away.

     

    Researchers [Berman et al 2009] have explored the cognitive benefits of interacting with nature and found that walking in a park in any season can help improve memory and attention.
    Memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour interacting with nature, but showed no improvements after an hour walking down city streets.

     

    Getting into different surroundings for real can also encourage your imagination and creativity. Get as much experience in the real (natural) world, and read as much about it and watch as many nature documentaries as you possibly can. the real world is much more complex and wonderful than anything else, and it has the advantage of being real. It's often those artists who've spent the most time studying reality that produce the most imaginative works. The more ideas you cram into your head from reality - the more you understand how it actually works - the more fascinating things you will be able to imagine and create.

     

    We're not asking you to go outside all the time -the researchers also had subjects sit inside and look at pictures of either downtown scenes or nature scenes and again the results were the same: when looking at images of nature, memory and attention scores improved by about 20 percent, but not when viewing the urban pictures.

    Start a folder on your desktop for your favourite nature scenes. Take a mental holiday there while you eat lunch, or whenever you feel like it. Add to the pictures regularly and remove those you get bored with.

    A common mistake working with imagination is to expect to have to 'think about' these images in some creative way; in fact all you need to do is stare at them blankly for them to have an effect. That's what input control is all about; unconscious influence.

     

    The company you keep

    Imagination has a big processing job. To help it, avoid confusing examples of stupid behavior and false archetypes, both in movies and in real life. There is no benefit to organic life in being a suicidal melodramatic celebrity in rehab. Ignore the actors; the real examples we need are the story characters themselves; a much healthier example of how to get into the right states of mind and perform the right behaviors to survive and thrive against the odds in real life.

    Hang out with creative, imaginative people. Look for people who are fun to talk to and have a keen sense of interest in life. You will become more like everything you surround yourself with.

    Some of the best imaginative company is healthy children. A healthy child's world is filled with imagination, and yours can be too, if you make the effort to interact with them. We don't mean fantasy, although they're pretty good at that too. Children are little scientists, discoverers and inventors, and they still know how to merge wok with play, which is the best road to creative imagination, strong interaction and powerful problem solving.

    Try the 'clouds' association game with children or friends. You all look at cloud shapes or inkblots together and answer the questions: "What does that look like to you?" and "What does that make you think of?".

  • Input control: Modeling for augmentation: This is a very good hack -the 'behave as though' method  :  ) The more you do it the easier it is because you start to understand how it works once you've had the experience. You need a good imagination to pull it off well, and if there's too much up front, that can get in the way; we start analyzing everything to death and lose the 'magic'.

    Get your favorite movies out and use them as tools to develop yourself. Simply watching people behave in non-anxious ways (in movies etc) and associating with that through soundtracks etc., helps convince the mind that you are surrounded by sensible people and adjust itself to 'match up' its thoughts & behavior accordingly. If you experience thinking the thoughts of heroes, you will be thinking like a hero and feeling the heroes' emotions. Once your brain has the experience of doing that, it can learn to do it by itself. All we need is good examples.

    Input control is about putting on a show of how you would like things to be (how things should be) so that the brain can observe and then copy it. You are fully aware that you're doing it on purpose because you know how epigenetics works, which is why it's a hack and not an accident. Unlike Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz[25], you can pay as much attention to the man behind the curtain as you like, because knowing how the system works actually helps if you're going to take over and start using it yourself, right?  :  ) Props for input are like movie props -they 'create an atmosphere' that puts you in the right mood for the right neurochemical balance.


    Use this activity to replace habits of wrong input such as watching crap TV.

 

Input control: using imagination to augment epigenetics

 

Modeling & epigenetics (empathic kinesthesia)

When watching an exciting dance performance or sport match we respond to what we are seeing with tiny muscular movements in sympathy with the movements of the players. This phenomena is called the 'kinaesthetic response' and will give us an empathy with the performers' emotions which is the shared pleasure of dance, action movie, music and sports fans.

Allow this kinaesthetic response full reign next time you are a spectator at some exposition of healthy movement. Allow youself to identify with a player you like and flow along with it. Be right THERE with every balance, swivel, collision; with every leap, fall, kick and glance.

After the event find some time in which you. can spend ten minutes alone. Close your eyes and relive the experience. Try to FEEL the main actions as vividly as possible. Allow your body the freedom to identify with the movements that have been seen and to reproduce them in miniature. Aim to gradually increase the possibility of transfering yourself into the body of a performer... this means imaging all the movements as if you were actually doing them.

Perhaps you will experience only general vague impressions at first but, if you persist, then the details will come with practice. This is your first step into the power of imagination to create reality through epigenetics -your body will signal your genome to initiate adaptive changes to make you more like that performer IN REAL LIFE. This results in improvements not just in sensorimotor areas such as balance, coordination and response time, but also in ways of thinking and doing; in other words you can learn anything this way (and this is what natural learning is all about).

Imagination effectively and efficiently communicates on an unconscious as well as conscious level (all brain networks can interpret an imagery based format). This means it will effectively signal the genome in the same manner as real life input.

The more powerfully and vividly you are able to imagine doing something, the more your body will respond as though you were actually doing it. (If you don't believe this, try thinking horny thoughts and see what your body does.)

 

Imagine Increased Muscle Strength -Experiment

A muscle can be strengthened just by thinking about exercising it.

For 12 weeks (five minutes a day, five days per week) volunteers imagined either using the muscle of their little finger or of their elbow flexor. think as strongly as they could about moving the muscle being tested, to make the imaginary movement as real as they could.

– the little-finger group increased their pinky muscle strength by 35%. The other group increased elbow strength by 13.4%.

What's more, brain scans taken after the study showed denser and more focused activity in the prefrontal cortex than before. The researchers said strength gains were due to improvements in the brain's ability to signal muscle.

We are programmed to copy whatever we are surrounded by and adapt to fit in. This is what is meant by the organism adapting to its environment, and you are practising directed evolution.

This is why you should not surround yourself with any crap, and why you should take every opportunity to observe and emulate anyone performing any skill that you require.

If you use nootropics, supplements, exercise, meditation, chemicals or other methods, try these exercises both with and without your usual input control.

 

Imagination and immunity hacking

When you get to this stage you should be able to use your imagination itself as input control via the 'placebo effect'. In this case however no deception is necessary; although your conscious mind is fully aware that whatever you choose as a trigger is in itself meaningless, your unconscious will happily upgrade your immune system and healing speed if you let it know that this is the expected result when you do 'x'.

'x' can be anything from a certain exercise to eating a particular food, but it works best if its something sensorimotor together with spoken words (for example “I'm going to do this exercise/eat one of these because they're full of vitamins and I'll get better quicker.”) You sat the words aloud as you perform the motions.

The method can even be used for prevention; when everyone around you has the 'flu and you keep saying “I don't get viruses, I haven't got time,” it will genuinely improve your immunity.

This sounds completely bizarre, and you will not understand the method unless you have already learned quite a lot about how the mind works. The important thing is to know that you are deliberately fooling a part of your mind, because if you don't know that, you can end up stuck with a superstition glitch.[26]


Imagination & Autonomy

The more you depend on your own imagination, the more proficient you will become at using it. If you rely on someone or something else to entertain you or tell you what to do or come up with new ideas, your imagination will shrivel rather than flourish for lack of exercise.

If on the other hand you develop your imagination sufficiently, you will never be bored again, regardless of what is or isn't going on your mind will always be occupied.

Remember whatever you put in to your imagination will shape its performance for good or ill. Inout control is as always your best tool for refining the image based format that underlies the quality of your whole intelligence.

 


EXERCISES -for network 3

 

Once you've hacked the relaxation response and worked on rear nets until you have a nice balance, you can start some imagination augmentation. If you rely on drugs or technology to achieve relaxation, bear in mind that you are indulging in state-dependent learning and may have difficulty recalling the skills you learn outside those same states.

WARNING If you have unconscious anxiety or unbalanced rear nets and you try to augment imagination without first being able to initiate the relaxation response, you WILL get problems. Don't complain to us; we told you to always do things in the right fragging order. Reality and facts and laws of nature won't go away, even if you ignore them.

 

Stretch-relax exercises for imagination

We need to stretch and explore to get input but we need to relax (and sleep) in order to understand it. This is why we learn faster by taking regular breaks. Stretching the imagination and then allowing it to relax is the aim of this type of hacking, and one of the finest tools for this is stories that we can listen to at the end of each day, after which we fall asleep.

Read (or even better, listen to) soft fiction. By 'soft' is meant at first totally imaginary; you want to start with faeries and elves and wizards and ali baba and the forty thieves and magic swords and captive princesses and dragons and all that jazz. We are talking books or audio here NOT movies or video, definitely not TV, and not comics or graphic novels. The point is to get your imagination to do the graphics. Just listen to the descriptions of things and form an image in your mind of what they look like.

Consider investing in audio books or getting together with a partner or friend to read aloud to each other.

In choosing ancient myths and stories, bear in mind that cultural collections are associated with certain environments. Choose those in which the stories take place in an environment you are familiar with. It's fashionable and cosmic to be into stuff like native american myths or ancient mayan epics or inuit folk tales, but if you don't actually live in and were not raised in that environment or that culture, they won't develop your imagination so well or so fast as if you do or you were. Association works best when all aspects of input fit synchronize easily and your familiar environments match up with the story landscapes.

 

Using drugs or tech

Some people use chemicals to assist imagination development; firstly in anxiety control and sometimes to get into a mental state where they feel able to play. Many adults have no idea how to play, having had it coerced out of them at an early age, but if we want to give the mind a second chance this is exactly what we have to do; relearn the art of play. Drugs can help some people relax and open their minds to new ideas without getting embarrassed, bored, distracted or impatient.

Everyone is different, and you may already know which kinds of chemicals suit you and which do not. If you don't know and want to explore, it's best to try things outside of the experimental context before using them for the first time in it. Magic mushrooms may help some to have wonderful imaginative visions, but all some others will see is themselves throwing up on the carpet.

 

Likewise some people like to use tech of various kinds to augment exercises and the same rule applies. No piece of tech works for everyone; light and sound machines make some people puke while others experience marvelous visuals. Don't use tech for the first time in an augmentation experiment; get to know it first.

 

Exercise to associate imagery with all the senses.

Imagine something simple that you can do in real life, such as going to a movie with a friend, eating at a certain nice place or doing something you like to do.

Visualize your images clearly, and start to include in the visualization all the five senses. If it is watching a movie together with another person, imagine the two of you entering the cinema and sitting down. Listen to the people around you, use your sense of smell and feel the coldness or warmth and the textures of things that you touch. If you imagine eating or drinking, imagine the taste and smell.

You will probably find out it is easier to imagine with some of your senses, and a little difficult to imagine with some others. Go on with the exercises and you will strengthen your ability to imagine equally well including all the senses.

Do the same exercise everyday, maybe when you go to bed, and you will find that it gradually becomes easier.

Sometimes you may find that your mind starts to verbalize about what you are imagining. Be careful not to replace the images with words. The aim is to use your imagination, not your descriptive skills!



Tactile Imagery Tours

Sit in an armchair with eyes closed and take an imaginary tour of your home touching surfaces and objects taking particular note of the different textures. Opening your eyes, make the same tour in reality as you imagined. Remember the imagined texture before you touch for real. How close was the reality to your imagined texture?

Next, imagine a fantasy situation for yourself to explore. This may be a castle, igloo, spacecraft, penthouse suite or whatever. In the fantasy use your 'minds eye' and set off to explore the textures of your imagined environment.

 

Exercises for imagination and spatial skills

You were born with a rapidly developing 3-dimensional imagination. Here are some exercises to continue developing it.

Imagination is not visualization. Most people talk about their three-dimensional imagination as `visualization', but that isn't exactly right. A visual image is a kind of picture, and it is really two-dimensional. The image you form in your mind is more conceptual than a picture-you locate things in more of a three-dimensional model than in a picture.

Three-dimensional mental images are connected with your visual sense, but they are also connected with your sense of place and motion.

 

Face imaging

Practice imaging faces until you can 'see' them in your imagination, large and detailed. Do this by studying faces of people you know in a picture then shutting your eyes and reconstructing the face with your imagination.

Then when you can do this, have a five minute session with your eyes shut bringing to mind a series of the faces. Each face should be 'held' for several seconds as a clear image and may even talk or make different expressions. Try and make one face 'fade out' into the next. The series may be chosen from different situations. e.g. friends, movie actors, neighbourhood, lovers, relations, business acquaintances, advertising models etc.

As an advanced experiment try imaging a series of faces you have never seen before. Hold each new face for several minutes and examine it in detail.

This exercise may be fundemental to our imaging ability because the first pattern we are primed to look for after birth is a human face.

Shape & size imaging

The size of an image is important. Imagine a little cube in your hand, a large cubical box, and a huge cubical room that you're inside. They all have very different associations despite similarity of basic form.

Imagine cutting off each corner of a square, as far as the midpoints of the edges. What shape is left over? How can you re-assemble the four corners to make another square?

How many edges does a cube have?

How many different colors are required to color the faces of a cube so that no two adjacent faces have the same color?



Picture Imaging

Go to an image website and find a picture of a landscape that you like. Study the picture for not less than five minutes until you are familiar with all its details. Now, turn away from the screen and imagine the picture with your eyes shut. Return to the picture to fill in details that escape you. Return to the picture again and again until the it lives as vividly in your imagination as it does on the screen.

When the picture is established allow it to come to life. Figures move, leaves rustle, water twinkles. Notice how the impression changes and the picture evolves. Blink. Can you now regain the original image?


Technique for unconscious image Generation

The generally accepted preparation is relaxation. This is not strictly speaking essential as many people will see images when excited or speedy, but physical relaxation usually helps silence any routine considerations of the conscious mind.

Use an abstract image or medium such as smoke, woodgrain, tree bark or clouds in the sky. How many images can you 'see' in the pattern?

 

Visual Image Manipulation

Choose an object from your room which you can visualise clearly.

Holding it in your minds eye... make it rotate, stop. Then walk around it whilst it is still. Look at it from above then from underneath. Move it away from you until it is in the distance... then gradually bring it closer until you are looking at one detail of it. Make the colour change once, twice and three times. Make it grow larger and larger. Make it grow is gigantic. Make it shrink... continue shrinking it until it dissappears. Then make it reappear in its original form.

Use simple objects at first then gradually progress to more complex ones.

 

Imagine a familiar reality

Choose a room you are familiar with for this exercise. After putting aside anything potentially dangerous, blindfold yourself, turn out the lights and navigate around the room or area. See if you can identify objects as you move around. It may sound a little silly, but doing usual things while blindfolded is an extremely powerful workout exercise for your memory, imagination and senses. Good examples are getting dressed, cleaning your teeth, bathing, brushing your hair.

During the first few exercises you’ll probably have a black image in your mind and you’ll feel very disoriented, but as you keep doing it you’ll find that your imagination will get to a level where you can “see” what you are doing without actually seeing it.


Exercises using spatial association with imagination

In this exercise instead of physically moving, you walk around only in your imagination.

Pick 6 locations or permanent objects in your room, garden or workspace: one at the front, one at the back and two on each side. Associate each one with a brain network, like this:

 

[front]

 6

5 4

1 2

  3

 

Now when you want to remember a list of things, start with a walk around the chosen space. As you go, associate each item on the list with one of your 6 locations or objects. Stop at each location and add humorous mental imagery and associated sounds, always in a comic way. When you need to consult your list, you simply walk around your chosen space in your imagination and you will "see" the items on the list.

 

Sensorimotor association

Using the spatial arrangement of numbers above, use you eyes as a director for where the information will relate to. Start by splitting the items to be remembered into 6 blocks or six things. Associate the first block with looking towards your bottom left, the second block bottom right, the third block straight down and so on. When you want to recall a particular block, look in its direction.

Why would moving your eyes influence your memory?

Researchers suspect [2008] it's because the eye movements cause the networks to interact more, and the association between networks is what brings back the memory more rapidly.

 

Exercises for improving imaginative association

"concept combination" exercise

Whether done alone or with others, you combine random concepts or things in new ways, to see how many ideas you can come up with. A box or hat is filled with bits of folded paper, on each is written an object. Each player picks out two and has to imagine how many different things could be done with the combination. A random word generator can be used if it can be set on names of objects.

Next time round, you pick out three objects, and so on. It gets more difficult to imagine possibilities for the combinations as the number of objects increases, but also funnier.

Start playing little silent "movies" in your mind, until you can watch them on command. It's a simple process, but for those who can't easily do it naturally, it can take a lot of practice. Fortunately, it is not an unpleasant activity.


Reveal unconscious association

Begin from a relaxed state. This is a good exercise when you are tired or drunk.

Using your NH diary, write down or type any ONE of the following core concepts: Matter/Energy/Space/Time.

Then stop. Look out the window or around the room. Read the word you have written, then using this as a keyword write the first thing (word or phrase) that comes into your head, when you think of the concept. Don't pause to think and consider..if you catch yourself doing so, stop. Look away. Clear your mind, then continue.

If you have prepared yourself sufficiently so that this process happens unselfconsciously the result may seem meaningless, unconnected or weird, but that's okay.

Now look at the second thing you have written, and repeat the process using that as the keyword this time. Continue until you have a list of about twenty things.

Now look back at your list and examine the terms as individual items.

How many of them associate in a clear straightforward way with the first thing you wrote down?

Are they all in the same category (for example, are they all material objects?) Could any of them be associated with any of the other core concepts you did not choose?

Next, instead of starting with a core concept pick up a book or open a document at random and choose a word by randomly pointing at a part of the page with eyes closed. Take that word or phrase as your new keyword and repeat the exercise including the questions at the end.

If you do this regularly you will start to notice habits of thought; ways in which you often make similar associations between certain types of things. This will help you see your own progress into more coherent association over time, based on real life relationships between things.

 

Imagination & Modeling exercises

Learn interactive reading/listening -if the story says the hero looked alarmed, pull an alarmed face. Tense your own muscles as s/he creeps down the dark tunnel to slay the evil monster or fight the dark tyrant. Laugh with glee as you (they) outsmart the baddies and save the day. At this stage, play only the goodies' characters (because you are learning the first 'batch' of archetypes). You don't have to imagine you're the same character all the time -imagine being some of the supporting characters too.

Imagine you are someone else from far away, a child, or another creature. What would they think of the way you live? Thinking from a child's perspective, seeing the world as a whale or a gorilla sees it, seeing things from another culture's perspective are sure ways to give the imagination plenty to play with. Try also to see things from the imagined perspectives of different characters in movies.

Sit, relax and close eyes. Imagine yourself doing some physical activity. It might be a job around the house like fixing the gutter, or it might be a sequence of Yoga or Tai Chi. Concentrate on what the movements feel like.

Start off with short, simple sequences and work up to long, complex tasks. Feel the effort required to do different actions. Be aware of any counter-balance necessary. Careful not to bump into things!

Physical tasks may be practiced in the imagination before actually doing anything. Dancers will often learn to image a sequence of steps before they do it. These kinds of exercises may be done in the imagination with real benefit to your physical condition, as we'll explain later.

 

'Camouflage & infiltrate'

The way we appear influences the imaginations of others to make choices and 'pigeonhole' us and then treat us accordingly. You can use this for your own protection and success, because others feel less anxious if they receive 'safe' images.

The clothes we wear always communicate particular attitudes even if its 'I'm not caring about my appearance' or 'You can't label me'. They also prompt others to associate us with imagined social groups. Most people believe that “You can tell a lot about a person by the way s/he dresses”. The clothing conventions of particular groups are more rigid than most people are prepared to realise.

Try adopting a particular style of dress for a week and note the differences in the way people respond to you. Then change to something different for a week. Continue this chameleon existence for a month. Even in this short time you will be able to make enough observations to considerably develop your skill at sussing out what choices, styles and colors get the least anxious responses from others.

Notice too your own response to your appearance in different styles. Does your self esteem increase when you are in certain outfits or have your hair a certain way? There's input control for you.

You can now 'dress for the occasion' wherever you go and get more polite interactions and a lot less hassle. You'll also have learned a lot about who is anxious and who isn't and your own attitude to how you look.

'Home' is the places where you can dress for comfort and pleasure and those around you will not change their behavior towards you.

 

'Reality check' exercise

Challenge all your assumptions. What are the real life requirements for any creature's survival? Imagine six different wild creatures. How does each meet these needs?

Imagine ten things you believe are impolite. Why are they impolite?

Imagine six things that are normally really good. In what circumstances might the same things be not good?

Imagine six things you believe are morally wrong. In what circumstances might they be permissable?

Your imagination should have no problem with these exercises if you have been practising those above.


'Upgrades' exercise

Start mentally redesigning everything you see. Imagine a better bicycle, a faster mail service, a lighter laptop or a more comfortable chair. Continue this for three weeks, and it will become a habit.


Describe your inner vision [needs assistant]

Sit comfortably with a friend and imagine a person, a place and an object, one at a time. Explain the images to your friend by talking about them, not by drawing them. It will probably help to close your eyes. Gestures and drawing shapes in the air are allowed.

 

Distancing

An exercise to practice the imaginative capacity to see the world from different points of view, both concrete and abstract. Select a well known place close to where you live; a market square, a garden, park, hill, big tree etc. Describe the view spontaneously as you imagine it from the points of view of:

1. a baby

2. an alien from another planet

3. a dude on a horse

4. a sniper

5. a person aged 3

6. an ant

7. a flying bird

 

Take two or three minutes to consider each viewpoint, and notice how our own interests change what we pay attention to.


Empathy exercise: Time Traveller

First session:

Imagine you are a prehistoric hunter-gatherer sitting on a fur rug in a lovely clean cave one morning. You have lots of firewood, fresh water, lots of tasty berries and half a side of venison left over from yesterday, and you were planning on having a quiet day finishing the wall painting that you started last week. Life is going very well and you feel happy and contented. Just bask in that space for a moment...

Suddenly there is a flash and a bang! You find yourself in a different place altogether-right where you are now in this place in the twenty-first century.

Now, think like the hunter-gatherer. This is “Cavedweller You” (This can be quite hard at first, but persevere and it can get real fun).

Obviously you are quite surprised to find yourself in this amazing cave, wearing peculiar thin garments, surrounded by objects you don't recognize but some of which you can guess the purposes of. Take a walk around the place and see how many objects you think you recognise the use of. ..Maybe this small spiky wooden thing with a pointy end is an arrow or a missile of some kind? This hollow solid thing could be a drinking vessel of some kind?

Look around...are there pictures on the walls like your cave paintings? Are there furs on the floor and the bed like yours? Can you see what might be food or drink anywhere?

Remember that 'cavedweller you' cannot read yet, so try to avoid reading the spines of books, CDs etc; just try to evaluate things from what they look like/ feel like/ smell like etc; explore them with all your senses.

Obviously some dude lives here, but they are out. From your explorations, try to work out what kind of person lives here and what sort of things they like to do. Be aware of what you would assume, as a person from your context.

Next allow yourself to pull open cupboards, boxes, books etc to look inside. Go around the whole space and explore, but do not go outside. When you get bored being this character, send 'cavedweller you' back to their own time by clapping your hands together and saying '”Bye for now”.

 

Second session:

You can bring cavedweller you back any time you want to, just by sitting quietly for a moment and imagining the first scenario in the cave. On your second visit, go outdoors. Try to head for the nearest place you see that looks familiar, for example a forest, a park, a mountain, a beach. How many things can you see that you recognize as potential food? Potential tools?

You can bring Cavedweller You back here anytime to explore anywhere. This exercise, if done well, can help your imaginative skills develop very fast. When you feel you have explored all its possibilities, choose another context (time & space) and bring someone else forward in time into the here & now. You can also do this with fictional characters when you get good at it.

 

Group travel

This is a great fun to play at parties -a group version of the exercise above. Everybody pretends to be their cavedweller version, and you are suddenly transported here through time as a group. Decide on a mission before you start; for example one good mission for the group is to construct a safe, edible meal from whatever you are able to find.

You are allowed to talk and draw but not read/write, you can deliberately dress for the game if you like, and we will leave the rest to your imagination, but one word of advice from our personal experience:

Don't all get drunk and go all around the town dressed as cavemen, climbing trees etc. Cops do not accept the excuse, “I'm sorry officer; I was expanding the frontiers of my mind.”

 

Other helpful activities

Painting, drawing, music or sculpture can't avoid putting your imagination to work. Technical hobbies can also provide creative exercise, eg amateur radio, electronics, model construction, computer programming.

 


 

 

Footnotes, Refs & Answers

 

[1] “Broken Mirrors: A Theory of Autism”; Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Lindsay M. Oberman; October 16, 2006.

http://www.sciam. com/print_ version.cfm? articleID= 000B7F38- 893D-152E88E283414B7F0000

Article: Vittorio Caggiano,1 Leonardo Fogassi,2,3 Giacomo Rizzolatti,3 Peter Thier,1 Antonino Casile1*,   Mirror Neurons Differentially Encode the Peripersonal and Extrapersonal Space of Monkeys, Science 17 April 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5925, pp. 403 - 406
 

[2] “From Rapid Place Learning to Behavioral Performance: A Key Role for the Intermediate Hippocampus” Bast et al, 2009,

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2671558/?tool=pmcentrez

 

[3] http://gallantlab.org/

“Reconstructing visual experiences from brain activity evoked by natural movies”.

Shinji Nishimoto, An T. Vu, Thomas Naselaris, Yuval Benjamini, Bin Yu & Jack L. Gallant. Current Biology, September 22, 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsjDnYxJ0bo&feature=player_embedded

The reconstruction was obtained using only each subject's brain activity and a library of 18 million seconds of random YouTube videos. (In brief, the algorithm processes each of the 18 million clips through the brain model, and identifies the clips that would have produced brain activity as similar to the measured brain activity as possible. The clips used to fit the model, those used to test the model and those used to reconstruct the stimulus were entirely separate.) Brain activity was sampled every one second, and each one-second section of the viewed movie was reconstructed separately.
For a related video see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMA23JJ1M1o
For more information about this excellent work, please check their lab web site: http://gallantlab.org

 

[4]Gazzola, V.; Keysers, C. (2009). "The observation and execution of actions share motor and somatosensory voxels in all tested subjects: single-subject analyses of unsmoothed fMRI data". Cereb Cortex 19 (6): 1239–1255.

Keysers, Christian; Kaas, John; Gazzola, Valeria (2010). "Somatosensation in Social Cognition". Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11 (6): 417–28. Mirror neurons are found in these regions: somatosensory cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, supplementary motor area, medial temporal cortex and inferior parietal lobule.

 

[5] Rizzolatti, Giacomo; Craighero, Laila (2004). "The mirror-neuron system". Annual Review of Neuroscience 27: 169–192.

 

[6] Keysers, Christian (2011-06-23). The Empathic Brain.

Keysers, Christian (2010). "Mirror Neurons". Current Biology 19 (21): R971–973

Kohler et al., http://www.bcn-nic.nl/txt/people/publications/hearingsoundsunderstandingactions.pdf

Science, 2002

Gazzola et al., http://www.bcn-nic.nl/txt/people/publications/gazzola2006sound.pdf

Current Biology, 2006

 

[7] Botvinick M., Jha A.P., Bylsma L.M., Fabian S.A., Solomon P.E., Prkachin K.M. (2005). "Viewing facial expressions of pain engages cortical areas involved in the direct experience of pain". NeuroImage 25 (1): 312–319.

Cheng Y., Yang C.Y., Lin C.P., Lee P.R., Decety J. (2008). "The perception of pain in others suppresses somatosensory oscillations: a magnetoencephalography study". NeuroImage 40 (4): 1833–1840.

Morrison, I., Lloyd, D., di Pellegrino, G., & Roberts, N. (2004). Vicarious responses to pain in anterior cingulate cortex: is empathy a multisensory issue? Cognitive and Affective Behavioral Neuroscience, 4, 270-278.

Wicker et al., http://www.bcn-nic.nl/txt/people/publications/bothdisgustedinsula.pdf

Neuron, 2003

Singer et al., Science, 2004

Jabbi, Swart and Keysers, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811906010780

NeuroImage, 2006

Lamm C., Batson C.D., Decety J. (2007). "The neural substrate of human empathy: effects of perspective-taking and cognitive appraisal". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 19 (1): 42–58.

 

[8] Gazzola, Aziz-Zadeh and Keysers,

http://www.bcn-nic.nl/txt/people/publications/gazzola2006sound.pdf

Current Biology, 2006

Jabbi, Swart and Keysers, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811906010780

NeuroImage, 2006

 

[9] Skoyles, J. R., Gesture, Language Origins, and Right Handedness, Psycholoqy: 11,#24, 2000

 

[10] Heyes, Cecilia (2011). Psychological Bulletin 137.

 

[11] O'Keefe, John, Nadel, Lynn (1978). The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map Oxford University Press.

Ekstrom AD, Kahana MJ, Caplan JB, et al. (September 2003). "Cellular networks underlying human spatial navigation". Nature 425 (6954): 184–8.

 

[12] Sargolini et al., Science, 2006.

Taube et al., 1990a

Taube et al., 1990b

 

[13] Hafting, T.; Fyhn, M.; Molden, S.; Moser, M. -B.; Moser, E. I. (2005). "Microstructure of a spatial map in the entorhinal cortex". Nature 436 (7052): 801–6.

 

[14] Jackson et al, 2009.

 

[15] Lindsay Oberman, PhD,Source: Society For Neuroscience
http://www.scienced aily.com/ releases/ 2007/11/07110612 3725.htm

 

[16] Jaime Pineda, PhD, at the university of California

 

[17] Luisa Sartori, Francesca Xompero, Giulia Bucchioni and Umberto Castiello;

“The transfer of motor functional strategies via action observation”

Source: The Royal Society
http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/09/14/rsbl.2011.0759.abstract?papetoc

 

[18] Suzuki et al, 2009

 

[19] Marcus Du Sautoy, “The Code”

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/code-numbers-shapes-prediction/

 

[20] Morpheus, 'The Matrix'.

 

[21] Colloquial varietes being (rearloaders)“WTF?” and (frontloaders) “Now then, now then, what's all this then?”

 

[22] Winnicott, D.W., (1971) “Playing and Reality”. Tavistock Publications, 1971.

 

[23] Answers to Batch 4 questions in assessment:

 

E=3rd P in SS: Earth = 3rd Planet in Solar System.

WF @ 0DC, or 32DF: Water Freezes at 0 Degrees Centigrade or 32 Degrees Fahrenheit.

 

[24] Answers to “Making Congruous Associations”

 

A pebble = MATTER

An eyelash = MATTER

A jungle = DENSITY

A load of people pulling a horse out of a bog = TIME

A big village = TIME

A banana = MATTER

A party = DENSITY

An earthquake = ENERGY

A buffalo turd = MATTER

The moon = TIME

A cave = MATTER

Kissing someone you find attractive = SPACE

The big oak tree half way to the water hole = SPACE

The water hole = SPACE

A hunting spear = TIME

A hunt = SPACE

Stocktaking = ENERGY

A software program = TIME

A computer = TIME

An explosion = ENERGY

A successful diplomatic meeting = POWER

Silk = MATTER

A silk necktie = TIME

The silkworm tree = SPACE

DNA (code) = DENSITY

A complicated problem = TIME

Tools = TIME

Seasons = TIME

Order = TIME

Resources = ENERGY

Being in someones arms = SPACE

Machines = TIME

Open grassland = SPACE

The air = SPACE

Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Ass = TIME

 

[25] If you like Oz archetypes, they can be damned handy for spotting 'stuck' states -Scarecrow is a rear-loader (doesn't have a 'brain' = no intellect), tin man is a front loader (machine, robot) with no 'heart' (emotions), and lion is a 'diagonal loader' (he's got networks 1, 3 & 4, but no 2 or 5 -no courage, no self confidence, or as the Celts put it, 'no balls'.) Lion is a pussy  :  )  Notice they all have to find their missing bits for themselves -the goodies help them but don't do it for them.

If you prefer The Matrix: No one can tell you what The Matrix is -you have to go there and realize it for yourself.

 

[26] A superstition glitch is a form of the fundamental attribution error in which cause and effect get confused. It is NOT the little sugar pill that heals you; it is your mind. When you get really good you can even do it without the pill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 13:14