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Home Library Tutorials Neurohacking Tutorial 8 - Imagination, Memory and Prediction - Everywhere and Nowhere
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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Sunday, 05 February 2012 12:46
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 8 - Imagination, Memory and Prediction
Neuroanatomy of Memory - Structure and Function
Everywhere and Nowhere
How Memories are Made
What Happens if Things Go Wrong?
Core Skills for Memory Health and Improvement
Imagination and Prediction
NHA Guide to Methods & Technology
The Most Important Bits To Remember
Hacks & Exercices
Notes, References & Answers
All Pages



Everywhere and Nowhere


It's important to understand that individual memories are not stored as 'things' or whole 'episodes'. While it's possible to look at brain structure in relation to memory function, categorization and processing, We cannot do so with individual memories. Trying to analyse the brain to see where individual long term memories live is a bit like sawing a calculator in half to see where the numbers live; it may be fun but it's not going to lead to any clues about how the memory process works.

Memories are conglomerates of patterns rather than individual patterns, and most memories have parts stored in multiple networks. That's why we can only describe types of memory and where they are stored, rather than the location of whole memories, because there isn't one.

One reason it has taken researchers so long to figure this out is the nature of recall, which by association reassembles any memory from just one cue -like a magic box of lego that, when you picked up one brick of a model, automatically made all the other bricks jump into place.

In the same way, experimenters would find what they thought was the location of a whole memory, say, triggered when exploring the olfactory cortex, and then discover that all they had really discovered was the memory of a smell. Triggering the smell memory just brought all the other associated memories from all the other networks up on the screen as well. Memories started looking like they could be in two or three places at once, in fact, we now know bits of them could be in dozens.

Memory does have a physiological presence, however. The individual concepts that memories are assembled from ARE stored permanently. But the concepts are not just used for memory; they are there for perception and prediction as well. The mind tends to store data with multitasking as a priority, because it lives in a reality of finite space with limited time, and multitasking is constant for intelligence, even in sleep.


Here’s a model of where we store different parts of long term memories:



From the last tutorial you'll recall that memory database locations are made of cells, and their associations are made by N3 prompting the growth of connections between cells. Wherever the brain has bridges between cells, the mind has bridges (associations) between concepts.

Building new bridges is what memory and learning are about, and connections are built by the mind using the brain, just like the brain uses the body to build real bridges in the real world. Links between associated concepts are what enable re-membering (recall) to form the conglomerate of concepts that is a memory, and recognition of a percept as relating to a concept in perception.

Imagination is the process that calls and presents the relevant displays for both functions (and also for prediction, as we'll see later).

The concrete physiological inks between neurons are representations of the abstract associations between concepts. We cannot have the latter without the former.

This is the way we make sense of the world and our own experience, by understanding how things relate together into a congruous whole and embodying that understanding in the very design of our neural architecture.

Now perhaps you are starting to understand the relationships between these processes; imagination, perception, learning and memory, more deeply. They are embodied; represented not merely digitally by 'software' graphic code but analogically in the very architecture of cellular integrity. All that each cell ‘remembers’ is its own movements (responses to the perceived environment outside the cell). That pattern of responses repeated is the basis of memory, because if the cells make the same movements they made when the event was first experienced, what we receive is a reproduced version of the same body-state, complete with neurochemistry, emotional experience, inner images and responses. And that's a memory.

You'll also be starting to see more reasons why congruous association is so important; why without it we cannot perceive clearly or store all parts of memories coherently in the first place, and moreover on recall why without associative congruity some bits of memories may be missing, changed or just plain false!

A good example of incongruity of association can be seen in all regimes and experiments wherever members of the public unthinkingly obey orders to physically harm strangers in response to the dictates of 'professionals' or 'authorities'.

The incongruity here is the untruth that it's okay to do something insane when the person ordering you to do it is believed 'more important to obey' than your own intelligence or 'knows what is right' in some mystical way more accurately than you do.

It IS okay to do what someone else tells us if their specific expertise in a given situation outreaches ours, such as landing a plane under radio guidance if the pilot passes out. We have a great ability to adapt to unquestionably obey the most competent person in any given situation, even if we don't understand why we have to do x, y or z; and that's in favor of our survival. But a lot of us have been conditioned to associate 'social status', 'appearance', or 'money' with competence, and this is where the incongruity of association lies. A lot of us have also been conditioned to expect punishment if we don't do as we are told, and we have to lose these false associations in order to think clearly.

While the conscious mind can be cracked or shut down through anxiety and lack of self esteem, and tricked into accepting this false concept, the unconscious mind knows very well that harming strangers isn't okay. This is an example of an ideological dilemma. One or the other belief has to be suppressed in order for life to make sense, and many people crash at this point and can be simply controlled through anxiety like an automaton.

Intelligence agencies call this 'the breaking point' in torture for extracting information or inserting indoctrination. Schools call it educating a child to be well behaved. Similar techniques are used in both instances (sensory deprivation and sensory overload, nutrition and sleep deprivation, restriction of movement, repetition of information, possibly drugs, and the overhanging random threat of getting beaten up in the playground).

Biology prioritizes making strong allies and nurturing mental and physical health, and harming strangers breaks both these requirements, so to the unconscious mind it is very stupid and dangerous behavior. We know this unconsciously, but life only makes sense and we can only make the right healthy responses when our minds can synchronize the same truth consciously as well as unconsciously. The conscious mind must agree with and provide evidence for what the unconscious knows is true, and our behavior must follow accordingly, or anxiety will result because biology knows that harm is being done. This is congruous association in a nutshell.

If you are already thinking, "Well I wouldn't obey orders to harm strangers from some pompous dude in a white coat", it is fair to remind you that neurohackers at this level do tend to have some advantages with regard to this sort of coercion as opposed to 'most people'.

Firstly, we usually have enough self esteem to resent being treated like idiots, secondly we are aware of the power of deception and have developed some clear cut natural morality and strong enough integrity to avoid capitulating under pressure. Thirdly, because of what we know, we are unlikely to be overawed by the idea of 'professionals', and if some pompous dude in a white coat asked your average NH student to harm an innocent stranger for the benefits of research their reply would be along the lines of, “Blow it out your ass”.

The ability to resist coercion is tremendously underrated; many who have it don't realise that this simple exercise of free will; the ability to say, 'no way' to something dodgy, is something that most people don't have and can't do, and we should appreciate the results of our endeavors and rejoice in the fact that we have this freedom and the integrity not be duped or scared into doing dodgy things, because it is a hallmark of a free mind. If everyone had even this small amount of freedom of thought, humanity would live in much more peaceful, progressive and productive ways, with the confidence and self esteem that comes with such personal integrity.

Personal integrity doesn't mean we should stand up in a fascist rally and say, fuck you Herr Hitler, I'm Jewish so blow it out your ass, or whatever; that wouldn't be too intelligent either! In circumstances of extreme danger involving coercion we must escape doing dodgy things by more devious means, necessity being the motherf***** of invention. We must use camoflage and deception to survive and thrive.

Nor should we ever feel guilty about deceiving those who would otherwise (even unknowingly) cause harm. Although some natural sadness is inevitable if we have to deceive those we care about in order to stay sane, guilt and shame are not part of any sane picture of reality; they are manifestations of anxiety, sentiments trying to usurp genuine emotion. They are just as dangerous and incongruous as hatred and malice. There is nothing wrong with feeling sad that someone is so dumb you have to lie to them.

Here is another perfect example of an ideological dilemma created by incongruity of association: society teaches us that we should feel guilty whenever we cause harm, and neuroscience tells us that the neurochemical state that guilt (and all sentiments) induce causes harm.

You have to decide which one you believe is true, but only science and personal experience can provide the proof. The only proof we have so far about guilt is that it degrades mind and body alike, but you must come to your own conclusions whenever you encounter ideological dilemmas of this kind. We need to learn for ourselves how to look at evidence and work out what is most likely to be true by ourselves, not be told what is true by anyone else. Reality has to make sense to us personally, or we won't ever feel comfortable in it.

To remain congruous, all human experience and beliefs about the world must associate congruously with healthy animal behaviors, or the mind will not be able to make coherent sense of circumstances; life in general will appear much too confusing for comprehension, anxiety will kick in and from that point perception is further clouded and many people just stop trying to understand anything new.

Perception, memory and prediction are mutually interdependant: if our associations are wrong, perception is unclear, memories are unclear, predictions and plans do not work out. Even the basic concepts of 'real' and 'not real' or 'beneficial' and 'harmful' are unclear and often wrongly associated, which makes it very hard for people to make any sense out of life, let alone achieve a rich quality of life experience.

...This seems a small, inadequate way to describe the mess of anxious confusion that is the health-wrecking reality of many people's lives, but I trust we all know enough about anxiety at this point to understand how many people won't realize how much it's controlling their every move until they have reduced it enough to experience life without it.

Q -What is it about animal behaviors that makes them such important universal associations for making sense out of things?

On the concrete level as we have learned, neurotransmission coordinates necessary animal behaviors with the emotional & body states needed for these behaviors. Neurotransmission and hormones tell us when we're hungry, tired, curious, alarmed or horny, and they also direct our behavior in all these circumstances.

For example, dopamine increases desire, in the hungry context that's the desire for food, prompting the basic animal behavior of strategic seeking as hunting/gathering. In the reproductive context it's the desire for sex (which we call lust), prompting courting and flirting behaviors as we go out strategically seeking a mate. In the exploratory/migratory context it's the urge to boldly go where no one has gone before. But it's the same transmitter and the same basic response -we go out seeking.

What is important here at intermediate level is understanding that the same system also delivers dopamine in the context of desire to motivate us to strategically seek the truth in a math problem or a scientific endeavor, or to observe closely when learning a new subject.

Likewise, acetylcholine can help us focus and discriminate better to stay on target -it doesn't matter whether the 'target' we're focusing on is an antelope coming in range of our blow-pipe, or the completion of a thesis or symphony. We need exactly the same state of mind to see things through to a successful outcome in abstract circumstances as we do in concrete circumstances: mental stamina, tenacity, determination, patience, focus and 'staying power', and these are invoked with exactly the same process regardless of the details of what they are going to be used for. The unconscious mind doesn't need to know the details in order to provide the necessary basics; it only needs to know which core concepts our behaviors relate to and in what order.

In summary, in the same way that our physical concrete abilities form the basics for their abstract analogues, healthy animal behaviors form the basic 'presets' or templates upon which more complex procedural and abstract constructs can be superimposed.

The basic animal behaviors are hard wired memories developed by evolutionary experience, with a direct link to our core concepts they form a major part of categorisation criteria for making sense of and allocating meaning to the world. They are deeply associated with types of processing necessary throughout the learning cycle, as we saw in tutorial 7, and in everything congruous that we do for the rest of our lives. They even furnish us with a natural morality, as we shall later see.

We are born intent on practising these behaviors through play, and performing them in reality, simply because both intelligence and biology need the range of experiences they cover in order to develop fully. Biology conforms to them automatically and unconsciously (even though consciously we may sometimes believe we are 'doing something' entirely different.)

These behaviors will become subverted whenever we are blocked from doing them by wrong input. Wherever incongruous association directs behavior; we will start doing dodgy things that are harmful to ourselves, to others and to our environment, and we'll carry on doing so until association is congruous, sometimes believing we are doing great good. But the worst danger of incongruous behavior is that it constantly pushes people out of the green zone and towards mental illness, whether they notice it or not.

Neurotransmission is subject to plasticity and if a healthy behavior is not practised, the network for processing that behavior will reduce the number of synapses carrying the relevant transmitters and network connections will degrade. If the wrong behaviors are practised, networks can develop an excess of some transmitters and/or transmitter-receptors that throws the whole brain chemistry off balance and network connections will burn out.

Consequently, a lot of what we do in intermediate NH involves firstly changing ourselves with exercises to tweak our associations into ever-greater congruity; secondly changing our context via input control to avoid incongruity in situations where we can, and thirdly learning 'getaround' hacks for situations where we cannot.

Don't worry at this stage if you are unsure whether your associations and behavior are congruous or not. We must fully understand these concepts before applying them with accuracy in self assessment. We are getting you used to these concepts now so that you will more fully understand the foundations of emotional stability, relationships and interaction, which we will be covering during this batch of tutorials. We'll have enough experience and examples along the way for you to understand how congruity enables interaction and incongruity leads to action/reaction in real life situations.



Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 13:32