From Web for free: PART I
Hologramic theory: what does it have going for it? Why would a serious scholar think the brain might house the mind as spectra of harmonic phase information, the principle common to all holograms?
•1. The Quest of Hologramic Memory •2. The Mind-Brain Conundrum •3. Holograms •4. Mimics of Mind •5. Shufflebrain •6. Shuffling the Hologramic Deck
Given rational reasons for belief, what does hologramic theory really look like?
•7. Waves of Theory •8. Ideal Mind •9. The Holological Continuum
Given a theoretical model of the mind, and reasons for believing it, can we use it to make sense of a few otherwise imponderable examples of mind in action?
•10. Microminds and Macrominds •11. Intelligent Holograms •12. Smart Eyes
copyright 1981, 1996 by Paul Pietsch
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Quest of Hologramic Memory
I am an anatomist. I say that with pride and satisfaction, even now. And during much of my career, I was certain beyond a conscious doubt that the truth about life would reduce directly and explicitly to the architecture of the things that do the living. I had complete faith, too, that my science would one day write the most important scientific story of all: How a brain gives existence to a mind. But I was wrong. And my very own research, which I call shufflebrain, forced me to junk the axioms of my youth and begin my intellectual life all over again.
My research supports, vindicates, and extends a theory of biological memory, of neural information generally--whether ordained by instinct or acquired through experience--a general theory of the very nature of mind. "Hologramic theory," I shall call it in this book. As its name implies, hologramic theory relates mind to the principle involved in the hologram. Its conclusions, predictions, and assertions represent the antithesis of what I once believed.
Holograms encode messages carried by waves, waves of any sort, in theory. And holograms of all types share in common the fact that they encode information about a property of waves known as phase. I will defer definition of wave phase until later in the book. But phase is a relative property, without definite size or absolute mass; it is elusive and seemed virtually unknowable until the development of holography, the branch of optics concerned directly with holograms. To reconstruct phase, which a hologram permits, is to regenerate a wave's relative shape and thus recreate any message or image the original wave communicated to the recording and storage medium.
Thus the basic assertion in hologramic theory, and the thesis I develop in this book, is that the brain stores the mind as codes of wave phase.
Where did hologramic theory begin? Its origins are complex, and this question should be answered by a professional historian; but the connection between holograms and the brain caught hold in biology and psychology in the late 1960s. Then a neurophysiologist named Karl Pribram, who was writing and lecturing eloquently and insightfully on the subject, proposed the hologram as a model to explain the results not only of his many intensive years investigating the living monkey brain, but also to account for many paradoxes about memory that had persisted unabated since antiquity.
Memory often survives massive brain damage, even the removal of an entire cerebral hemisphere. In the 1920s the celebrated psychologist Karl Lashley, with whom Pribram once worked, demonstrated that the engram, or memory trace, cannot be isolated in any specific compartment of a rat's brain. Certain optical holograms invented in the early 1960s, the most common today, exhibit just what Lashley had alleged of memory: A piece cut from such a hologram--any piece--will reconstruct the entire image. For as unlikely as this may seem, the message exists, whole, at every point in the medium.
My own research has not always focused directly on memory. Regeneration of tissues and organs held my fascination for many years, and I am still pursuing certain questions about the molecular aspects of the regrowth of muscle tissue. But even as a sophomore in college I had the persistent hunch that all recurrent biological events, developmental or neural, might be explained by one unified theory. I spent some years in the pursuit of a structural explanation of how new muscles and skeletons regenerate in the limb of the salamander. My investigations began to suggest that the cells responsible for each new tissue acted as independent mathematical sets. Using transplantations and various other means, I tried to model transformations of independent sets. This approach was very productive.
No other creature rivals the larva as either donor or host of transplanted organs and tissues.
Here, for instance is an animal with an arm in its right orbit, as anatomist call the eye socket. The transplant moved in harmony with eye in the other orbit, the reason being that the muscles that had previously attached to the eye grew into and mixed with the muscles of the transplant. Meanwhile, the still cartilaginous skeleton of the orbitally transplanted limb remained normal. Now, the forearm and hand of the limb transplant are regenerates (as were the animals normally situated limbs). Later, microscopic examination of speciments like this revealed mixed muscles amid perfectly regenerated skeletons. I planned to employ transplantation in shufflebrain research.
Here's another illustration of the transplantability of salamander parts.
This fellow is an axolotl into whose dorsal fin, I'd transplanted a hind leg and an entire brain, including the donor animal's inner ear, where it's orgas of balaance reside . I spliced the leg to the brain with a hank of spinal cord. I knew the splice worked when the transplanted limb began to feel for the floor of the aquartium and walk on its own. Nerves from the ear must have grown into and hooked up with the brain. Also, the leg would kick wildly where the animal rocked back and forth, presumably from stimulation of the transplanted inner ear. I used to call this animal Thumper, from the sometimes jackrabbit-like action of the transplanted limb.
Here's an animal with an entire head tranplant in its right orbit. The donor head, which came from a beheaded embryo, developed normally with two anatomically perfect eyes and a snapping set of jaws. The transplanted head couldn't eat because it lacked the rest of the equipment -- which was transplanted somewhere else. The host was a larva at the time of the transplant operation. Did the two heads think as one? By all indications, each retained its separate psychological identity.
In the mid-1960's, while searching for a system that would allow me to extend my theory from regeneration to memory, I decided to perform experiments with the brain. Hologramic theory had just begun to emerge as I was gearing up. Its predictions were at odds with virtually everything else I believed. Hologramic theory predicted that memory cannot be explained by the structure of the brain.
"What kind of a nitwit would seriously believe a thing like that?" I asked a senior colleague. "Don't we use legs to stand on, teeth to chew with, bronchioles to breathe through? Sperms swim with their tails. Hairs curl or don't curl depending on the detailed structure of their proteins. Even genes work because of molecular anatomy. Why should the storing of mind be different?"
Hologramic theory not only stirred my prejudice, it also seemed highly vulnerable to the very experiments I was planning: Shuffling neuroanatomy, reorganizing the brain, scrambling the sets and subsets that I theorized were the carriers of neural programs. I fully expected to retire hologramic theory to the bone yard of meaningless ideas. I had begun licking my canine teeth like a mink who has cornered a chicken. I even began considering which scientific meetings would be best for the announcement of my theory. I should have awaited Nature's answers. For hologramic theory was to survive every trial, and my own theory went down to utter defeat.