baudrunner's space: The brain encodes and decodes visual information
"Philosophy to Science - Quark to Cosmos. Musings on the Fundamental Nature of reality"

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The brain encodes and decodes visual information

Just for the record, I would like to challenge anyone in the field of computer rendering/animation to reproduce the picture found in the link here, titled "Escher style Fractal - Connected Cubes" in three dimensions, and to make it viewable with the right eye glasses.

I have read eleven books about the brain -- some big, some little. The most useful and educational ones have plenty of redundant information in them but that just strengthens one's interpretations about what is read in the rest of those books, not to mention the articles and news items that contribute even more about the subject. I encourage anyone reading this to read as much about the brain as they can get their hands on to stimulate the myriad receptors in their own. There are some great articles on experimental data which should stimulate those regions of it which are intrigued in those who are naturally inclined to be curious.

For example, the cerebral cortex is a gray-hued sheet of brain cells measuring between a millimeter or two in thickness which covers the surface of the white matter which makes up the glial material which forms the scaffolding and structure which supports the neural networks which communicate with the central processing unit sitting on and surrounding the mid-brain. These constitute respectively the thinking and processing part of the brain. Most of the brain mass physically supports the network circuitry.

Scans which show activity when a subject is stimulated, such as the CAT (Computed Axial Tomography), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), PET (Positron Emission Tomography), SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography), and DOT (Diffuse Optical Imaging) etc. tend to go a little deeper into the brain and display information when the neurons are activated, displaying the information transfer along the pathways and all the processes leading to where that information ends up. As to whether the actual information is stored or simply processed in the areas one speculates about is beyond the ability of scanning techniques to resolve or decipher.

This is where brain theory comes in. Not much is known for certain about the storage of information inside the brain but we do know the bio-electro-mechanics of information transfer via axons and dendrites and therefore we can draw some plausible conclusions. It may be that memory is an ongoing associative process whereby networks are reactivated on recall according to the original pattern of information processing when related information is received. An analogy to the brownian motion of atoms may be drawn. It is a motion that never ceases. Furthermore, the information pertaining to the visual imagery of the surface characteristics of objects that we see is modulated on all the particles which comprise the medium which transmits this information and we can draw an additional analogy from this fact, in that the information pertaining to imagery is retained as modulations reduced, or 'unrefined', to the molecular level and stored as patterns rather than as bits and bytes as in computer memory. In this way, the physical components of the brain can detach from the memory portions while still very much associated with them. Insomuch as it has been established to the satisfaction of many experts that an infinite amount of information can be stored on an electron the brain probably has infinite capacity for storage and different information can probably be stored within the same essential circuitry. As the association of experience recalls a memory the engram 'enlarges' into the unique pattern representing specific information.

In essence, while largely speculative, this idea limits the depth of the involvement at the quantum level of the process of memory and recall and which yet links that realm to the reality that we perceive at the macroscopic level. Nevertheless, a very definite analogy to quantum computing can be made, in that a qubit, or quantum bit, can assume all possible states at the same time. We are undeniably macroscopic representations, manifestations if you will, of quantum structures.

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