top of page

When compared to a computer CPU, is the human brain single-core or multi-core?

I really like Frank Heile answer to this question and I cringe at offering a counter point because Frank is absolutely right about the massive parallelism. However, it seems that the animal brain, as well as, human brains are organized into four massive parallel processing "dimensions" or super-goal sets that overlay each and every process Perception, Cognition, Memory, Impulse, Emotion, Attitude, Mood and Libido (or what ever name you want to give the the "reptile" brain sort of functions that all of the rest of everything else builds upon.) The processes are discrete in that they accept the same inputs but evaluate those inputs based on differing criteria. And., it is hard to say that this processing is localized to any one area, as each memory seems to be encoded with (or at least the possibility of) all four aspects. This system allows the brain to process information in an amazing way that more approximates the way that databases operate rather than other models of control systems that are proposed and discussed. Rather the process of perception is filtered (compressed) and fed to the brain via a more or less massive bus that essentially is a query that either triggers recollections or not and these recollections trigger associated recollections in a cascade. This cascade is dumped back on the bus carrying associated recollected perceptions such as emotional loading. Now it is said, "To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail." And, it seems to me, Ray Kurzweil has made his fortune in pattern recognition algorithms so it is not surprising to see him turn this model to understanding the human brain. I recommend the first two thirds of this book (unfortunately the bit that most people never discuss and perhaps never read....) But, to me it is the interesting bit (the first half or so). How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed: Ray Kurzweil, Christopher Lane Kurzweil lays out a very nice case that the Neo-Cortex most especially is a generalized pattern recognition engine that takes on specific optimizations to handle specific types of data, hence the seeming specialization of this area vs. that in the Cortex. He discusses this in depth with respect to his own work in pattern recognition systems and how they are optimized so, one turns away these insights at their own cost. Nevertheless, many I read if not most neglect the role that emotions play in the very core of consciousness. Jeff Howe in his book "Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business" discusses the merits of a Prediction/Decision markets as an analytical technique that can out think any group of experts. Much research has been applied to this concept but in bringing it into popular usages such as predicting election outcomes, the issue of betting and manipulation are mostly what people remember. Nevertheless, this four "dimensional" organization of the human mind is all about using this very tool to make sense of a response queue from the brain's database queries that are an ongoing stream. Our minds eye gets a gusher of imagery and perceptions associated with the perceptions we are accepting through our senses and with this gusher is the means to interpret this data based on partial or strong interpretations of previously similar situations, events, opportunities. Whether you see this as applying four filters, or calling this concept "attractors" or dimensions.. perceptions and recollections are evaluated based on four criteria. 1) Impact on establishing or maintaining one's identity (status) 2) Impact on establishing or maintaining one's relationships (membership) 3) Impact on enabling acquisition or retention of possessions (tangible and intangible) 4) Impact on enabling access to desirable information. Every perception and recollection and imagining is evaluated by all four of these criterial simultaneously. Dr. Hunter B. Shirley proposed this idea in 1983 in his book, Mapping the Mind. This idea was based upon observation of non-verbal emotive behaviors that Dr. Shirley had researched by watching humans communicating in languages that he didn't understand the verbal content as well as animal studies on chickens, which turn out to share the same four basic goal seeking dimensions just as do all vertebrate animals.

Each event, recollection or concept passing down the "bus" seems to carry this interpretive information which is considered not in sequence but as a gestalt. This is a bit of the genius of the design of cascading recognizing and inference connections that characterizes the neural network connections of the brain. Rather than build a query like in a relational database where only exact matches get returned in the response queue or at best "fuzzy" matches. The brain accepts inputs from perception, recollection and cognition as equally valid cascading query triggers. One thing just leads to the next. And, the result is delivered in time and fades as the next wave of recognition and response forms without perhaps any specific clock cycle to modulate the timing other than the natural decay rates of the neurochemical triggers and results of these queries. However, the feedback system that scores the results of these queries is what we know as our emotional system. In relational database design, one technique of associating information is the creation of tables that contain secondary indexes. These secondary indexes are also called linking tables. They link records together inside of a table or between two tables in ways that are not one to one, allowing grouping of records by rules external to the matching based on selection logic. The brain, rather than making an entry in such a table just stretches out a dendrite to make a physical connection that is triggered when a close enough match is sensed by the neuron. This allows "unlimited" associations so that the linkage between a perception and its affective content need not be stored in the recognizing neuron but only triggered as if it was another query on one of these connecting tables. The connecting table then triggers a response to each the nexuses of the meaning element associated with this perception. The components of the "sensation" of consciousness is the sum of: 1) the perceptional input stream, 2) the secondary recollective association streams triggered by the perception stream 3) the associated affective interpretive response results (from instinctual proto-emotion classes to refined attitudinal results and activation or suppression cues (mood) Modern humans add: 4) the associated recollective conceptual streams that are co-mingled with experiential recollections 5) the associated affective conceptual interpretation response results, etc. This is possible because these meta-memories are stored and responded to in exactly the same way as any other recollection (recognition result) using the same pattern recognition hardware and algorithms. However, it is our perception of emotion (affect) that is a key factor in this equation. Emotions (as a super-class) are all of the interior perceptions that are generated by the brain as feedback signals to interpret and guide the brain's next action. At the lowest level these feedback signals drive survival required goal seeking with demands to action that are able to drive processing focus to these specific needs to the exclusion of all others. Whether we call these instincts or "base urges" these "feelings" provide maximum "carrot and stick" guidance to the brain via sensations of intense pleasure in the form of satisfaction delight and extreme pain in the form of hunger, suffocation, etc. and urges for achieving dominance, predation, exclusiveness, etc. which result in their own "high" sensations. These basic responses can be grouped into three classes: Danger, Satisfaction and Challenge. This level of processing is common to all vertebrates and can generally operated guided by instinctual core value sets that are associated by cues that trigger these specific responses based on perceptions like olfactory/gustatory perception of sweetness or oil that is a rich food source that then is associated with the impressions of the item possessing these properties as well as the other perceptions that were apprehended at this time. (Hence Pavlov's dogs who salivate at the ring of the bell associated with feeding times.) Nevertheless, at this lowest level you get enough controls to drive a very sophisticated set of available responses with very little "ROM" to drive it. The "old" system designed to handle this recognition is in the Cerebellum and associated with "muscle memory" and habitual actions which connect behavior almost directly to stimulus, which has positive and negative aspects. Nevertheless, the gestalt or recollective queue from the perceptual cue triggers associated feelings as well as other perceptual recollections that are associated with the "matched pattern" and this is resolved by a "decision" market sort of summing into "instructions" like the caxton on a warship, "all hands on deck!" preparing the body for action. But, also serving as a secondary function of reward or punishment to reinforce or extinguish new habitual behaviors based on this "event." Reward drives retention and new connections associated with pleasure. Punishment drives retention of connections associated with pain and abandonment of some or any pleasure connections formed previously. The intermediate state, where pleasure is remembered but pain acquired in this instance drives a third behavior class called aggression where force is used to hopefully achieve the expected pleasure response.

Thus, behaviorally, the brain processes all of this information into the four "viewpoints" or dimensions into each of these three classes of response that is used to simultaneously and almost instantaneously react with remarkably nuanced behaviors depending on the situation and the past experiences of the organism. Dr. Shirley identified these twelve basic emotions as follows:

These are the names of the more refined "human" class emotions but the underlying proto-emotions are shared by all vertebrates just the same. This is why we can see those sad eyes of a dog and know what this means. In fact, our ability to sense and interpret the emotional displays of other humans is a key use of our perceptual system and this processing goes on largely without cognitive input on a habitual level. I might not know to say she is expressing "hauteur" and "anger" but I know for a fact its time to get the heck out of Dodge just the same. These three types of emotions Aggression, Anxiety and Attraction can only be expressed one at a time in each dimension. This is important. It is the whole point, to resolve all of the swarm of recollections being dumped on the "bus" into some sort of actionable direction. Typical Decision Markets have two states, Yes or No. But, this system uses three for obvious reasons. Choosing the most effective "strategy" for the moment. Ignore this. Smash that. Run like hell. Ooooh pretty! Having four of these decision processes going simultaneously allows the nuance. Desire + Pathos = Entreaty. I want it, you have it, pretty please???? You can just see the pathos. You really like me don't you??? More on this and how these emotions combine can be found in these answers: David Powell's answer to How are emotions influential? David Powell's answer to Is there a simple classification / category system for emotion? I just want to very briefly touch Frank Heile's discussion on this question about "word" based emotions and consciousness, which I also find insightful and relevant to the above. The neo-cortex vastly extends the brain beyond the old reptilian and emotional/Cerebellar brain by adding a huge "RAM" upgrade. The Neo-cortex is actually made up of almost uniform structures repeated over and over. Plasticity is possible because these structures are basically the same, but are in practice specialized for specific types of data aggregation. This specialization enhances the speed of processing and also eases the connection forming cost by storing like data near like data where the connections are faster to build because of distance. The human brain has developed to the place were gestalts can be connected to symbolic representations such as words or pictures just as these could previously be tied to places, objects and sensations. And, these concept objects can then be associated with other concept objects to create an ever expanding richness of conceptual and metaphorical meaning. This is especially significant for language because of the ability to form conceptual frameworks to define time and self. These concepts and the availability of writing make it possible to archive data off line and thus create a record of passing time and fixing stories and identity information into a larger frame than even the brain itself can apprehend directly. This innovation created the conceptual reality of understanding implicitly (by implication) rather than explicitly a larger reality than just me and everything else. But, more concretely, this concept framework provides a "bucking" force to resist the impulsive direct actions triggered by habitual cues. The availability of this behavior constraint however sometimes requires some cognitive processing when the constraint is not habitual (built though practice). This is the origin of the so-called microexpressions that Paul Ekman talks about as being significant in interpreting the truthfulness of statements. The FACS system of identifying microexpressions notes the specific movements of groups of facial muscles. And, humans are quite sensitive to these fleeting cues that attempt to replace impulsive expressions with considered or "fake" expressions. However, this is much less important to day to day interactions than the good old direct emotions that we often express like condescension which masks the contempt of the expresser with affection as a "softening" aspect. Depending on the how you focus, you pick up on the affection or the contempt and react accordingly. But, more interestingly, concept based emotions can be associated with habitual reactions such that these emotions that at one time had to be driven by a cognitive process can become automatic and thus not fleetingly reversed but accepted as reality by the expresser and expressed without such cues. Thus, we find people able to be motivated by the promise of money (a concept object) to buy non-specific things ( a concept class). However, if a specific concept thing is advanced like a new car, this emotional connection can be even stronger, as the person can imagine that specific thing and feel the desire more acutely. And, even more acutely if an image or a direct recollection is available to be associated with this concept. This is the reason for brand symbols, pictures, jingles and the like. And, also the purpose of religious imagery and ritual objects just the same.

Love is an amazing emotion. But most folks don't know it is compound emotion.  One form of love is called agape which is without a sexual feelings. It is made of four component emotions focused on the same object with the same strength.  You will discover these emotions and more here!  

Recommended Reading
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Components of Love?
bottom of page