Nonlinear dynamics and higher cognitive mental functions: Comment on "Information flow dynamics in the brain" by M.I. Rabinovich et al.

Harvard University, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, 149 Thirteenth Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, United States.
Physics of Life Reviews (Impact Factor: 7.48). 12/2011; 9(1):74-5; discussion 80-3. DOI: 10.1016/j.plrev.2011.12.004
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    ABSTRACT: The talk discusses a mathematical theory for cognitive engineering, which significantly improves solutions of many engineering problems and at the same time models spiritual feelings in the human brain-mind. This convergence of scientific, engineering, and religious theories indicates a possibility of signal developments. C. Jung wrote that schism between science and religion points to a psychosis of contemporary collective psyche; survival of culture demands repairing of this schism. Many outstanding scientists are trying to mend this schism. Many books are written arguing that the newest scientific discoveries in molecular biology, evolution, and cosmology do not contradict the main tenets of the world's religions. But there is no scientific theory, explaining spiritual dimension of the mindbrain. "Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe." This Einsteinian statement remains outside of science. Understanding of the mind mechanisms today came close to explaining spirituality from scientific point of view. The talk tells about the knowledge instinct, driving growth of the mind, responsible for our higher mental abilities of abstract symbolic thinking, for beautiful and sublime, and for evolution of cultures. A mathematical theory is presented. This theory is a mathematical breakthrough that overcame decades of limitations in AI, pattern recognition, neural networks, and other attempts to solve complex problems by modeling the brain-mind. Solutions of engineering problems are presented that overcome previous difficulties of computational complexity, and result in orders of magnitude improvements in detection, prediction, tracking, fusion, and learning situations. This theory is extended to higher cognitive functions. It models the knowledge instinct operating on the hierarchy of the human brain-mind. At the bottom of the hierarchy are simple objects, higher up are situations, general and abstract concepts, unifying contents of lower levels. At the top are concepts unifying our entire knowledge; we perceive them as concepts of the meaning and purpose of our existence. The mathematical theory explains why these concepts are inherently vague and unconscious and our consciousness is in great doubt about their very existence. When we feel that we have understood them a bit better or our belief in their existence got a bit firmer, we feel the emotion of beautiful. In parallel with the concepts of understanding the meaning and purpose, we have concepts of behavior needed to realize the beauty in our life. When we feel that we have understood these behavioral concepts a bit better or our belief in their existence got a bit firmer, we feel the emotion of spiritually sublime. Science explains that beautiful and sublime are not final notions. It follows from Godel theory, that mechanisms of the highest aspirations of human spirit are not logically reducible to finite statements. Attempts to compute them logically exceed in complexity all elementary interactions in the Universe in its entire lifetime and therefore choices of beautiful and sublime involve more information than is available in the Universe. A possibility of these choices is called a miracle in traditional language. A computational theory of these choices goes together with a proof that science is not reducible. Laws governing our highest values would not be reduced to laws governing a leaf flying with the wind. Hamiltonian formulation of the fundamental laws of physics leads to what is commonly considered a scientific causality: particles and fields move under forces, and the next moment is a consequence of the previous one. Lagrangian formulation leads to teleological formulation: particles and fields move toward a purpose, maximum of Lagrangian function ("minimum of energy" in the parlance of the middle school physics). The Lagrangian equivalence of causality and purpose exists in physics of few particles, but it does not exist in statistical physics of complex systems. The mathematical theory of the knowledge instinct made equivalent causality and teleology for very complex systems, the human mind and culture evolve causally according to dynamic logic and evolve teleologically toward maximization of knowledge. This defines the new "arrow of time." The talk discusses brain imaging experiments conducted at Harvard Brain Imaging Lab confirming this theory. Contents of models of beautiful and sublime are unconscious; they do not belong to our consciousness. They are "collective," outside of consciousness. Consciousness does not control them, they control our consciousness. Therefore, we feel them as a source of agency outside of ourselves. In recent discussions it is called Designer.

  • Physics of Life Reviews 03/2012; 9(1):80-3. DOI:10.1016/j.plrev.2012.01.003 · 7.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Conscious and unconscious brain mechanisms, including cognition, emotions and language are considered in this review. The fundamental mechanisms of cognition include interactions between bottom-up and top-down signals. The modeling of these interactions since the 1960s is briefly reviewed, analyzing the ubiquitous difficulty: incomputable combinatorial complexity (CC). Fundamental reasons for CC are related to the Gödel's difficulties of logic, a most fundamental mathematical result of the 20th century. Many scientists still "believed" in logic because, as the review discusses, logic is related to consciousness; non-logical processes in the brain are unconscious. CC difficulty is overcome in the brain by processes "from vague-unconscious to crisp-conscious" (representations, plans, models, concepts). These processes are modeled by dynamic logic, evolving from vague and unconscious representations toward crisp and conscious thoughts. We discuss experimental proofs and relate dynamic logic to simulators of the perceptual symbol system. "From vague to crisp" explains interactions between cognition and language. Language is mostly conscious, whereas cognition is only rarely so; this clarifies much about the mind that might seem mysterious. All of the above involve emotions of a special kind, aesthetic emotions related to knowledge and to cognitive dissonances. Cognition-language-emotional mechanisms operate throughout the hierarchy of the mind and create all higher mental abilities. The review discusses cognitive functions of the beautiful, sublime, music.
    12/2012; 2(4):790-834. DOI:10.3390/brainsci2040790