The intricate pattern of the brain: the memory object

In the previous article, I wrote about hypothetical nodes that will appear after a brain has been stimulated in different, but similar, ways. These nodes can become like gatekeepers. If a node is not triggered, then a stimulus is not of that type. I also postulated that neurons, including neurons present in these nodes, are connected to emotions. In this article, I want to delve more into the psychology of this idea. How are memories built up? And what does that have to do with these nodes? I want to answer that in this article. But before I begin, again a warning: I am not a neuroscientist nor a psychologist nor a sociologist, so take this article with a grain of salt. This article is part of a series of articles. I would advise you to read the previous articles before reading this one.

Before we go on, I want to make something clear in advance. This article can get a bit confusing if you do not understand the different meanings of the word “object”. There are three types that I might use in this article or oncoming articles. These are memory objects, external objects and abstract objects. What memory objects are, I will explain in this article. External objects are objects in your environment, like a table in the room you are sitting in. Abstract objects are concepts that exist in your environment but are not tangible, like a phone call. The phone call “exists” in the real world, but you cannot hold it. In the upcoming segment about Object-Oriented Programming, I will also use the term object. Here, it is a programming term. I will not use it in this way anywhere else.

A baby’s understanding of the world

A baby has been born. It has observed the world and the hypothetical nodes in the long term memory (LTM) have been created to represent rudimentary shapes and sounds in the LTM. So how does the baby use this to start understanding the world around it? Before I can answer this, I want to talk about a programming method called Object-Oriented Programming.

Object-Oriented Programming

OOP is a programming method that divides a program up in a series of mini programs. Each of these mini programs can usually perform a single task. For instance, a mini program that can accept input from a user, or a program that can alphabetize a list of words, or a program that can display a list of words on the screen. These three together can make one big program that can accept a list of words from a user, then alphabetize them, and then display them on screen. These mini programs are referred to as objects. There are a number of advantages to this method, but the one I am interested in is object composition.

Object composition is basically the arrangement of these OOP objects. You can mix and match them as necessary. If you want to build a bookkeeping program, it is useful if you already have a mini program that can ask a user for input. Also, alphabetizing certain data will be useful. And of course, the program needs to output data on screen. Of course, the bookkeeping program needs many more OOP objects, but these three can be reused. This way, a program becomes like a castle build out of building blocks.

Memory objects

So what does this have to do with our nodes from the previous article? I am going to postulate that these nodes can work together to form a bigger “node”. For instance, in the previous article I wrote about the principles that make up our understanding of a circle, like symmetry over the x and the y-axis. A circle has some of these principles in common with a square. These principles, and the ones that the circle does not have in common with the square, make up the concept of a circle. So we don’t remember specific circular things that we have seen in our lives, but the averages of all aspects of a circle. These aspects together can make up an image of a circle in our “mind’s eye”, or mental imagery. So our concept of a circle could, for instance, be a geometrical shape with a center, a top point, a bottom point, an outer left point, an outer right point, is symmetrical over both x and y-axis and has a steady curved line going from one outer point to another.

In reference to OOP, I want to call all these principles, and the greater object that they create, memory objects. Memory objects are stackable and reusable principles of understanding of stimuli that have been derived from the averages of the similarities and differences of stimuli, that can be mixed and matched to form new memory objects and are reused in other objects that share these principles of understanding. Both a building block and the (sub)buildings that they create are memory objects. So the center of a circle is a memory object, but so is the circle itself. This is because the circle is used to understand circular things, like a steering wheel or an analog clock, which are themselves memory objects.

Memory objects and emotions

In the previous article, I speculated that micro memories contained connections to emotions. These connections will also get increased plasticity when they are triggered often enough in congruence with certain neurons. If this is the case, then memory objects will also be connected to emotions. In the previous article, I have also speculated that these emotions are also accompanied by inhibitory or stimulating function. This will decrease or increase the probability of memory objects opening up to the incoming signal.

If a memory object is build up out of multiple rudimentary memory objects, then its emotional connections are the sum of all emotional connections that are tied to the underlying memory objects that make up the overlapping memory object. This, then, can be a mix of pleasure and anxiety.

The work memory and the senses

To understand why I think that this could explain how our memory works, I need to do some very rough speculation on how our senses work and how our work memory (WM), whatever that may be, works in conjunction with the LTM. Again, I am no neuroscientist and I have no idea if it really works in the way that I propose. There are many ways in which this memory object idea can still work, so please bear with me.

One way in which I could see this could work involves a thing that is called retrograde signalling. Basically what I propose is a game of tennis between the senses and the WM with the LTM as the field. So, on the one end of the field are the senses, and the other a hypothetical “WM” which job it is to bounce the signal back.

Let’s say a stimulus is picked up by the senses. This stimulus forms a micro memory that excites certain neurons that trigger a cascade into the LTM. This will follow, and if necessary, pave synaptic pathways that best fit the stimulus. The main point of my reasoning is that the signal is not only dependent on the micro memory, but also on the connections that the memory objects have to pleasure and anxiety. These connection will either encourage or inhibit the signal from opening the memory object. So what would then end up in the WM is not the same as was sent by the senses. The signal has been manipulated by past experiences and their emotional connections on its way to the WM through the LTM.

I will then speculate that “somehow” the signal arrive is the WM, if one exists, and it will then excite the appropriate neurons there. The signal that has come from the senses through the LTM will interact with the plasticity that still exists in the WM from a previous micro memory,

Something (and I have no idea what or if this is even possible) will now in the WM trigger a retrograde signal. I must speculate that the retrograde signal can now travel back over the nodes (memory objects) that have been used to path the signal. As I wrote before, there is still residual plasticity in the WM which will influence the signal back, if possible. The signal will now travel backwards toward the senses, where the retrograde signal, I speculate, can trigger the mental senses that we seem to have, like mental imagery or mental hearing.

I don’t know how this is done, but I like to think that these signals travel all the way back to the sensing organ. So, a mental image travels back to the eye, only to end up at the back end of the eye. This could then “project” the mental image onto the actual eye. I have no idea if such a thing is possible. It would explain why hallucinations can be so lifelike, though.

Because the signal is partly blocked and partly encouraged depending on the memory objects that it uses, the signal is guaranteed to change every loop. Since the overall pattern of the LTM and its connections to emotions are ever-changing, no two loops of this thread are ever the same.

Alternative mechanism

An alternative mechanism could use the fact that the human brain is made up out of two hemispheres. I do not know enough of the brain to ascertain to what degree and how this could happen, but I envision that where where the senses come in, one eye, for instance, might go to one side, and the other to the other. Then they cross each other, for instance through the corpus callosum. From there, the signals can now each move through each other’s hemisphere, ultimately ending back up in the opposite eye. This method gives the signal a chance to be manipulated by the emotional connections, that, I want to speculate, are probably similar in both hemispheres, since they process the same external, or internal, stimuli. After this crossing, the signal can be bounced back again, and this process can be repeated over and over, somehow. Again, I am just speculating what sot of mechanism could exist in the brain to make such a thing possible, but I have no idea how realistic it is. For the rest of this article, I am going to assume the previous mechanism.

The thread

When the hypothetical retrograde signal returns to the senses, it will again create a micro memory. The signal will therefore be immediately send back. It will pass over the LTM again, where the signal will interact with itself and with the emotional connections again, and it will end up in the WM again. From there it is sent back again and so on.

This loop can only be broken by either a genetic response to a change in stimuli, or by an internal decision. I will talk about decisions more in an upcoming article.

This ongoing loop of external and internal stimuli that will be ongoing as long as a person is alive, I want to call the thread.

Associated thought in the thread

When the thread passes over the memory objects of the LTM led by the micro memory and the emotional connections, it can access other memory objects that are related to the memory objects that are used in the thread.

For example, lets’ say that you are listening to someone talk about a friend. To understand what the other person says, your brain needs to open up the underlying memory objects of what a friend is. Of course, the external stimulus steers the signal towards the particular friend that it is talking about, but other memory objects associated with the underlying memory objects of the concept of friend, and the memory object of the concept of friend itself, might also open up. This could happen because the thread is just a cascading signal. If it is stimulated in a certain direction and inhibited in another, it will go towards certain memory objects, even when they are not picked up in external stimuli, This makes you, for instance, think of some other friend, and that could make you remember that you are supposed to give something to the other friend, even though you are in a conversation with someone about someone completely different. In this way, the thread jumps from topic to topic. The mind therefore seems tends to think associatively. I speculate that the association lies in the memory objects that are shared among certain topics.

Mental senses

We are all familiar with our inner eye. I think that the common way of referring to this is mental imagery. We all seem to have the ability to imagine what things look like. This ability is not jut limited to sight. Also the other senses make it that we can imagine what things sound like, taste like, smell like and what things feel like. We can remember all these senses. If I ask you to think of the smell of fresh bread, then you can almost smell it for real. If I asked you to imagine a dragon flying around a castle, then you can create this mental image in your head.

I am arguing that these mental senses can be triggered by a signal that I hypothesized could retrogradely pass over the many nodes of the LTM and therefore end up in exactly the same place where the forward signals that build up the nodes over time started, which, I speculate, might be the sensing organ itself. I can imagine that this triggers another way of “seeing” when it comes to a mental image. It is not the “screen” of external stimuli that we see with our eyes, but some sort of internal space, wherein the mental image can exist. A small bit of evidence that I can give for this is that when someone accesses their memory, it has been observed that the pupils of the eyes can contract or dilate. I would then argue that this is caused by a retrograde signal sending the mental senses to be “projected” on the “back of the eye”.

Only what you have experienced before

Because mental senses are the result of the pathways in the LTM, mental senses can only be build up out of things that the brain has previously experienced. So, even though you have never seen a dragon in real life, you can conceive one in your mental imagery based on, for instance, big things that you have seen previously, certain reptiles that you have seen, certain wings that you have seen and fire, that you have seen. Of course, most people have also seen dragons in movies, where someone else conceived the mental image, basing it on these characteristics. Because you have previously seen all of these aspects of what makes up a dragon, you can mix and match the memory objects that represent these aspects and build up an image of a dragon.

What you cannot conceive in your mental imagery is a fourth dimension of space, since you have never experienced such a thing. Also, infinity is not something that you can imagine, since by its very nature it is impossible to observe. Therefore, people have a hard time understanding infinity.

When mental imagery and external stimulus overlap

I want to speculate that mental senses are fundamental to the understanding of external stimuli. When we see an external object and focus on it, it seems that our mental image has disappeared. But has it? I want to argue that recognition of an object is in fact our brain overlapping a mental image directly over the seen and recognized external object. Let’s say someone looks at a phone. They focus on it and recognize the phone. All the surrounding objects that are not focused on have no overlap with mental imagery and are therefore not recognized. They are just blurs in the vision of the observer. The phone, however, has been focused on and recognized. Its shape has been compared to past experiences and so are its parts, like the casing, the touchscreen, or the camera. Maybe the way it acts is also in line with the memory objects that we have of other phones, like lighting up the screen or sounding a ringtone. This makes us recognize that the external stimulus is a phone. So the phone can be overlapped with a mental image. This would then be a mental image of understanding.

The overlap of the mental image with the external stimulus will be perfect because of the micro memories of the external stimulus. Any distortion of the signal that might happen when these micro memories pass over the LTM retrogradely will be corrected quickly enough by the continued focus of the brain on the external object. This guarantees that the overlap will be perfect.

Newborns cannot have mental imagery

I want to speculate something about newborn babies. I speculate that newborns don’t have mental imagery, because they have no path to the WM. The path needs to be carved out first. When there is too little plasticity in the LTM, the WM cannot send back a signal. The newborn therefore must rely on external stimuli. These will quickly carve out a path of synaptic plasticity that will reach the WM and trigger the hypothetical retrograde signal.

The newborn sees the world in the same way we do when we see the surroundings of a focused on external object. The surroundings become “hazy”. You notice flashes and hear loud, sudden sounds, but you don’t recognize anything unless you focus your inner eye.

To understand this haziness when unfocused on things are just seen as blurs and mostly ignored, I want to present to you an experiment that you probably have seen before. If not, then here is the thing you are supposed to do. Watch the below video and count the number of times that the players wearing white pass the ball.

To keep track of the ball, you must target your mental imagery constantly on the ball and on the hands that grab it. This way, you can count the amount of passes of the basketball. The rest of the external image that you see is not recognized and just perceived as a blur. Since there is plenty of motion in the video, the motion of the man in the gorilla suit is not picked up as a surprising external stimulus and therefore not focused on. The gorilla is ignored. This is how the newborn sees all the world.

Types of memory objects

Because of the stackability of memory objects, the LTM is like a house of cards. No card can stand alone. All cards need to lean on other cards to be able to stand. The fundament of the house of cards is a series of two cards leaning against each other. These cards represent the most fundamental memory objects. They only represent one thing. If you have two of these sets of cards, you can lay a card on top, bridging the tips of the two sets. On top of this horizontal card, you can balance two more cards against each other. This entire structure is also a memory object, but so are its parts. So the sets of cards leaning against each other could represent the concept of a center, or symmetry over a certain axis. If we add more and more cards and keep on adding layers, we will build up the concept of a circle. Build further, and you might build the concept of a car. A car is an external object that is a combination of many geometrical shapes. It must therefore be a house of cards with many layers, and is pretty wide. The concept of a circle is a relatively smaller house of cards.

But external objects aren’t the only patterns that we discover. We also discover that certain forces can create changes over time. This time principle leads to more patterns, other than color and shape. They are about forces acting on external objects, which are represented by memory objects in the lower layers of the house of cards. The patterns of these timed events must therefore be higher layers of the house of cards.

Agency is another difference. Agency leads to external objects moving or making sounds without a force being acted upon them. The behavior of agents is unpredictable. And yet, patterns can be discovered in agency. And these patterns need to be remembered, so that they can be used to predict the agent’s behavior in the future.

Because of these concepts, I want to divide the LTM up into three main layers: the static, the dynamic and the social. Before I explain how these work, I want to speculate that the static, the dynamic and the social have to be in their own brain parts so that they can communicate with the WM without having to pass the higher layers, if this is indeed the mechanism that the brain uses. It would be very frustrating for a baby if it would first have to understand complex social structures before it can create, for instance, a mental image of a circle.

The static

Static external objects represent the fundamental principles of geometrical shapes, or are made up out of multiple geometrical shapes. They have certain colors, and they cast certain shadows, depending on the light source. Basically anything that does not have an element of time is static.

Static memory objects simply represent static properties. How big is it, how symmetrical is it, and so on.

I have speculated before that all neurons can have emotional connections. Therefore, all memory objects can have emotional connections, including static ones. However, since we encounter so many of the same static memory objects in relatively neutral emotional states, since static objects pose no threat to us, the connection is quite neutral. One will not quickly get a phobia for circles.

The dynamic

The dynamic memory is based on the recognition of forces that can change an external object in a consistent way over time. The keyword here is time. What the dynamic memory stores, I speculate, is the recognition of patterns in time. These patterns then are dynamic memory objects.

So how does the dynamic memory encode this? I will be honest to say that the understanding of patterns in time stored in the brain goes beyond my understanding of such things. It is difficult to understand what mechanisms the brain uses to keep track of the amount of time that has passed since the beginning and the end of an event. I can only roughly speculate that maybe the brain compares one event to another and roughly remembers “somehow” that one was longer than the other. This way, the brain has a “ranking” of events that have been experienced often and that take a certain amount of time, and every time we have recognized an event, we measure its length to this ranking of previous events. So, we say things like, it took as long as smoking a cigarette, or, not as long as a football match. For more precise understanding of smaller amounts of time, we might use all stimuli at our disposal, like unconsciously “comparing” the event to a heart beat, or normal breath of air.

I want to speculate that the non-time part of the dynamic memory, by which I mean the way in which the event unfolded and not just the length of the event, are metaphors of lower layer memory objects. So the social is made up out of metaphors of the dynamic and the static, and the dynamic is made up out of metaphors of the static alone. This effectively means that all higher layers are ultimately all remembered in a static way.

What do I mean by this? Let’s say that someone rolls a marble over a level table. This marble will roll over the table in a straight line, following the direction of the force that acted upon it. Friction will make it slow down (a little), depending on the surface of the table. Because no forces act on the marble anymore, it follows a straight path. Because of friction, it will slow down a little. Ultimately, the ball drops off the table.

We could now represent this in a two-dimensional static image made up out of geometrical shapes in the form of an arrow diagram. The direction of the marble is just a straight arrow pointing to the edge of the table. An arrow is a two-dimensional static image. I speculate that, in some way, this is how we remember dynamic events. We can later use this to recreate the event. A two-dimensional static representation of the slowing down effect can be represented by a graph with an x-axis representing time and a y-axis representing velocity. This is a straight line that points slightly down, representing the slowdown in velocity. This is also related to lower and higher that I would argue must be part of the static memory. This representation can also be done with a right angle triangle, where the slope of the hypotenuse is proportional to the slowdown. In this way, the path and slowdown of the marble can be remembered by the dynamic memory by using metaphors of static properties.

I am not arguing that everyone specifically thinks of arrows and triangles, though some might remember things like that. I am just using arrows and triangles as examples of how events could be stored in your brain in a static way. I speculate that everyone has their own way of remembering events that is similar to this, and is made up out of static metaphors. By remembering it like this, the brain can later recreate the event using this metaphorical diagram.

To make this point more clear: what you remember is that the marble was pushed in a “normal” way, and it took “some” time to reach the end of the table, and that the table was quite long. Therefore, when recreating this event in the mental senses, the event would last a couple of seconds, based on similar things that you have seen, and, perhaps, have “ranked” in your hypothetical ranking of durations of events that I speculated about. This recreation is not equal to the time that the actual event took, but the result of the logic of a “normal” push, on a path that is a straight line, on a table of a certain size, that must have led to a certain amount of time taken.

Dynamic memory objects also have emotional connections. People who have less experience with falling objects have less strong emotional connections than people with this experience. Especially someone who has had an object fall on them, or has seen an object fall on another, will be more hesitant when it comes to objects falling. Expert lumberjacks are often more careful than amateurs.

The social

Things that fall out of trees create events that are stored in the dynamic memory. They follow a set path that will not be interrupted unless some other force will work on them. A leaf that falls from a tree will not suddenly change its mind and fly up. A bird, however, can do that. A bird has agency.

Agency creates patterns that are more unpredictable than simple dynamic patterns that are the result of forces that acted on objects. Agents can change direction on a dime. They can also suddenly make sounds. They follow the dynamic memory when forces are acted upon them, but they can also create forces that act on other objects. And in the behavior of agents we can find patterns as well.

These patterns seem to follow the same metaphorical principle that I speculate exists with the dynamic memory. The metaphorical relation can be between social and dynamic, social and static, or a combination of the two. Two examples can be that one can be in the center of attention (representing a circle), or one can feel pushed by someone into doing something (representing a pushing event).

When people do not display predictable patterns in their behavior, we find them crazy and dangerous. Since we cannot make predictions about them, they become a threat to us. The need to understand these social patterns is therefore big.

Agents are external objects whose patterns need a lot of memory to understand. Since agents can show many patterns in many ways, the amount of patterns that need to be remembered is huge. This means that social interaction probably makes up the vast majority of our memory.

As with the static and the dynamic memories, social memory objects are linked to emotions that can regulate the chance that the memory object triggers. When someone would see a person showing behavior that is linked in the observer’s head to behavior displayed by someone the observer doesn’t like, they will become wary. The more memory objects that this recognized pattern shares with memory objects that make up the memory of the disliked person, the more wary someone will become.

Recognition of an external stimulus

You see a thing in the distance, but you do not recognize it. You decide to walk up to it and check it out. As you get closer and closer, you recognize it. Before it was a blur, but now you see it. When you walk backward and keep the object in eye, the understanding of the external objects doesn’t go away. What you previously perceived as a blur, is now an understood external object, even from farther away. I have speculated previously that this is because of an overlap of the mental imagery. But what led to the recognition?

Before you recognized the object, I think that your brain tries to overlap the external object with the result of memory objects recognized within it These are just not sufficient to recognize the object. You might, for instance, recognize a certain shadow as a being physically part of an object, leading to an incorrect understanding. In this case, the shadow will trigger parts of the memory pattern that are intended to recognize physical parts of an external object. Since a shadow is the result of light cast and is not physical, this will result in you not being able to match this thing that you see in the distance with something in your memory pattern. When you come closer, and you recognize the shadow for what it is, you can start recognizing the external object for what it is. You can now focus on the external object without the shadow. By ignoring the shadow, correct micro memories can stimulate the thread to pass over the correct memory objects.

So now these micro memories that are created when focusing only on the item and not its shadow will trigger the correct neurons in the senses, sending the cascading signal toward the WM. In the LTM, it will pass over the appropriate nodes, since this pathway has been paved before by recognitions of similar external objects. If it is a harmless external object, like a phone, not many of these memory objects will be inhibited (if any at all), and so the WM can send the signal back with the appropriate memory objects being used to overlap the external objects with mental imagery. A recognition as an understanding has been created.

Environment also matters

In the above-mentioned example, I wrote about recognizing a phone from a distance. I focused solely on the object itself. The environment wherein the external object resides is also important for the recognition of the object. Since we encounter certain external objects in certain areas, the external object and the area share memory objects. For instance, part of the understanding of shampoo is that you use it in the shower. Part of the understanding of a shower is that you wash yourself with things like shampoo. So the thread wants to go to the recognition of external objects that are related to the area wherein it resides. This is because the memory objects are connected through pathways of increased plasticity. The thread wants to go in that direction. I think everyone has mistaken an unexpected item in a certain area for an expected one at least once in their life.

So being in an environment means that the thread will pass over memory objects of this environment. Since the understanding of a lot of external (abstract) objects is based on certain underlying memory objects that are also used by certain environment memory objects, there is an expectancy of certain external (abstract) objects in that environment. They are entangled with each other.

Threshold of recognition

Pareidolia is the human tendency to recognize shapes, often faces, in random patterns. A famous example is of a woman who saw the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese. A face is recognized when it clearly is not there for real. Why is this?

Let’s focus on a different example first. Below, I depicted a screenshot of the American sitcom cartoon Family Guy. On it are just a couple of lines and some colors. There is no human and there is no dog. And yet we recognize a human and a dog.

A screenshot from the American cartoon sitcom Family Guy. Depicted are Stewie and Brian Griffin. Although Stewie, with his head shaped like a football, looks nothing like a real world toddler, and Brian is showing behavior of a human, they still resemble a toddler and a dog. Why is this?

The two above depicted characters are Stewie and Brian Griffin. Stewie is the toddler and Brian is the dog. Stewie has a head shaped like a football and eyes that are just two white circles with smaller black circles inside them. His nose is just a line where normally a nose would be relative to the eyes. His mouth is made up out of one line, some black, and some red. Humans look very different, and yet we recognize him as a human toddler. Brian is standing on two legs and drinks coffee, and yet we recognize him as a dog. So some lines and colors can make us think of toddler and dog. What led to this?

The answer to this seems to be that you simply don’t need all underlying memory objects that a bigger memory object can have. There seems to be a minimal amount that can still lead to an understanding of the overall memory object.

Even though Stewie has a head shaped like a football, his relatively big sized head is congruent with what you would expect from a toddler. Their heads are bigger relative to their bodies than the heads of adults. He is wearing overalls, which are a typical type of clothing worn by toddlers. His head does not stick out over the table, meaning that he is short, which is also typical for a toddler. He stands and is therefore not a baby. All of these things mentioned are, of course, memory objects. Brian has flappy ears, a big black nose, a dog collar, and is not pinkish, like Stewie, but completely white.

So, apparently not all underlying memory objects of a bigger memory object have to be recognized. A certain amount is sufficient to accept the memory object. If you think about it, it makes sense. If you needed to recognize every little detail in something before you can recognize the category that the thing is in, then recognizing things would become very difficult. There seems to be a certain threshold of underlying memory objects that need to be recognized that leads to the recognition of the bigger memory object. The question then rises: how much can we take away from Stewie and Brian so that they are no longer toddler and dog? Or in other words, what is this threshold that understanding demands?

Law of closure

To answer that question, I first want to go to Gestalt psychology. Again, I am no psychologist, and I most definitely do not know about Gestalt psychology, but reading the Wikipedia page on it, I came across the law of closure. Next to it, the article had the following depiction.

The idea is that even though the shapes have not been drawn completely, we can still perceive these two shapes as circle and rectangle. If I understood it correctly, Gestalt psychology speculates it has something to do with the necessity of humans to close things. I would argue that for your brain, the concept of a circle doesn’t need something as a line representing it. We can also understand circles metaphorically, for instance. So, the fact that the line is broken doesn’t matter. Enough of it is present that we can see the principles (memory objects) of a circle, or the principles of a rectangle in the other depiction. It has a center, a top point, a bottom point, an outer left point, an outer right point, is symmetrical on both x and y-axis, and the part of the border that is still visible represents a steadily curved line. But the border does not make up the circle. The circle is more of the circular nothingness inside the border. It exists with or without it.

So the law of closure is not something that surprises me. The memory needs to build up an understanding of what is seen. Therefore, it will try to turn it in a known memory object that it can use in mental imagery to overlap the external stimulus. So I agree with Gestalt psychology that the law of closure is a thing, in a way.

But what if you take away a different part of the circle? Will it cease to be a circle? Let’s try it with a circle that has different points removed. I have also created another form of symmetry by removing specific parts of the circle.

Even though this is a circle with just some parts removed, I can no longer see it as a circle. Maybe it is just me, but I see the image depicted below.

In my mind, the “circle” has become different then the earlier one, where only small chunks were not visible. For me, the memory objects that need to be triggered, aren’t anymore in this one, and I am no longer willing to accept it as a circle. It becomes this blunted thing in my head that is depicted in the second image. Though also here, the understanding in my mind is that of an enclosed object and not some random lines that are not somehow connected to each other. Humans always look for patterns (memory objects) to remember things and events efficiently.

Is recognition personal?

To get back at Stewie and Brian Griffin. How much can we take away from them so that we can still see them as toddler and dog? This is hard to say, since what is acceptable for one might not be for another. Sometimes Stewie wears different clothing, like a suit. I can imagine that an unsuspected viewer might then mistake him for a small adult. People who know him, however, already have memory of him as a toddler. They can suspend their disbelief even when he is dressed like that. For Brian, it is the same thing. But take away enough from them, and they will cease to be toddler and dog, even for those who know them. Make Stewie tall and make him wear a suit, and give Brian a normal nose, mouth and ears, and they are no longer toddler and dog.

It is not unimportant to note that both of them already display characteristics that are not in line with toddler and dog. Stewie speaks perfect English with a British accent and regularly comes up with pretty convoluted plots to do something or other. Brian walks almost exclusively on his hind legs and can talk. But the other characteristics outweigh these. So, apparently there is a weighing going on in the memory and the recognition of toddler and dog wins.

So it is hard to say how much we can take away from them so that we no longer see Stewie and Brian Griffin as toddler and dog. It depends on what that specific brain finds acceptable. I want to speculate that this is at least partly decided by genetics. Some brains accept certain things quicker than others. This is by no means always beneficial. A person whose brain accepts a lower amount of underlying memory objects to confirm a higher one can jump to conclusions. They are prone to being hoodwinked by others. People who need too many memory objects might have difficulty learning things, since they need to be so thorough.

Pareidolia is personal

That leads us to pareidolia. The grilled cheese in the example that I had given earlier, simply looks enough like what a depiction of the Virgin Mary would look like. It is important to note here that only people who have seen depictions of the Virgin Mary will recognize the Virgin Mary. Looking at the grilled cheese, then, leads to enough of the underlying memory objects that would make up such a picture being recognized, that the thread sends back a recognition of the Virgin Mary, and maybe even the sound of the words “Virgin Mary”. This will be especially true if the brain is then also triggered by someone saying that it is the Virgin Mary, as this will add even more to the “recognition” of her in the grilled cheese. When enough of these memory objects are present in the overall pattern of this external stimulus, the brain will overlap the pattern seen in the grilled cheese with one quickly assembled by the brain, made up out of the memory objects that have been spotted and that have been completed by the brain.

Acceptance threshold is a feeling?

I want to speculate that the brain does not only give an overlap of mental imagery, or any other sense, but will also give you a positive feeling that you have understood what you were looking at. In a later article about pride and shame, I will speculate that it could be pride, but for now I just want to state that there is a feeling of pleasure when something is recognized, for whatever reason.

I have noticed with myself that sometimes I get a feeling that I understand something, but when I then think about it some more, I realize that there are gaps in this knowledge and I don’t really understand it. Other people seem to be more thorough, and need more underlying memory objects before they get the feeling that they understand. I want to just purely speculate that this feeling is, then, the basis of humans thinking that they understand. Understanding is just a feeling, nothing more. For some, the feeling can happen quickly, for others it takes longer. It is this feeling, then, that decides the acceptance threshold of memory objects.

Index memory objects

When you discover and recognize a certain memory object, I want to speculate that maybe this creates a memory object connected to the pattern that you have discovered. This memory object, then, acts as a quick “summary” of the discovered pattern. This “summary”, I speculate, could then simply be a memory object that can open up the memory object that it points to, and can direct the thread over it entirely when needed. These “entry point” memory objects will be created when a new pattern is discovered. These “entry point” memory objects can then be used by the brain to quickly scan its pattern to see if it understands something. They can therefore, then, serve as an index for the brain. The brain can use them, for instance, to follow a conversation by giving a quick confirmation that the words used by the conversation partner are understood, and will together make up a bigger pattern at the end of the sentence. By quickly hitting these index memory objects, the thread is led to the correct understanding of the higher pattern that is being explained, for which there is no one word, and a sentence is needed to describe it. Index memory objects are therefore the physical guide of the thread towards a higher memory object, and are therefore, together, the guide to the understanding of higher memory objects. It is as if the brain remembered that it remembered previously, and therefore can trust that the understanding will still be there (even though it might not be). This could, for instance, explain why people with certain types of dementia think they understand, but if they really probe their brain, they find nothing.

Making predictions

Since the understanding of an object is dependent on past experiences and not just the external stimulus, all of our understandings are an average of what we have seen in our lives, and not direct representations of what we see. Predictions work in the same way.

When we see a ball that has been recently pushed, but not anymore, then we observe that the ball has no force working on it anymore. We see a rolling ball that we all know is coming to a standstill at some point. What point is this? We can make a prediction.

We see the angle under which the surface is tilted, if any. We see the materials that the ball and the surface are made up out of. We have memories of many things rolling. These memories are made up out of the discoveries of certain patterns. Rolling a marble on high pile carpet will not make it roll far. Rolling on a marble surface will make it travel a lot farther. So rolling on a hard surface works better than rolling on a soft surface.

When accessing all of the static memory objects that determine the properties of the ball and surface in combination with the recognition of the rolling event, a dynamic pattern, the LTM will allow a prediction by unlocking the appropriate memory objects that are associated with the recognized patterns. We all have recognized that hard surfaces make better surfaces for rolling balls on than soft surfaces. We have seen this many times. So if we recognize a ball that is about to be rolled over a hard surface, we can complete that pattern. Just like with Stewie and Brian Griffin, we don’t need all underlying memory objects to come to an understanding of a thing. If we recognize enough memory objects in the pattern, we can start to make a prediction. So if we have enough memory objects to realize which pattern will be unlocked by rolling a marble on a marble surface, then this recognition will be unlocked in the form of a prediction.

In the LTM, the thread that is guided by the external and internal stimuli picked up by the person observing the rolling event, will simply pass over the nodes (memory objects) that might not have been recognized, but are attached to the pattern through previous recognition. Since the recognized memory objects gatekeep the non-recognized memory objects, the thread will unlock the entire pattern.

To say it in another way, you can recognize an entire pattern even when the event is just half way. There are enough memory objects that trigger the recognition of the pattern. Since you recognize the entire pattern, you can unlock the entire thing in the LTM and make a prediction via the WM in the senses. This does not apply only to the pattern discovered as a whole, but also all sub-patterns in the form of underlying memory objects that haven been (unconsciously) observed in the greater pattern.

Since predictions are not guided by external stimuli like recognition is, they can be heavily influenced by the emotional connections to the memory objects in the LTM. This can make people, for instance, fatalistic, or optimistic depending on the topic and the “emotional wiring” of its memory objects.

Memories are logical

People assume that the life they remember is the life that they lived. This is not the case. As I said, the LTM is just the collection of all patterns that you have discovered in your life. You can remember the logic of certain events that you have experienced only because these events themselves are part of the overall logic of your life. You got where you are today because of certain steps that you took. This logic of your life leads to the ability to reconstruct these events that became important in the logic of your life.

You can remember that certain things happened at a certain moment in time, because it makes sense to the overall logic of the pattern. You remember timing in the following way: “It must have been in 2020, because I remember that Trump was still president and there was COVID. That is why I was still at home preparing to campaign.” These memory objects guide the timing of the event. Because this event is necessary for this person to understand how they got where they are today, it is added to the overall logic of their life. All the logic is, of course, ultimately stored as a metaphorical static understanding of the pattern, as I have speculated earlier. Memories that are not so important anymore to understand today’s life will be forgotten.


Confabulation is when a person tries to remember a thing but cannot. Instead of accepting the fact that the thing is not stored in the memory, the brain tries to get an answer anyway. Since I speculate that the LTM is a pattern that represents the overall logic of the brain’s life, and not individual events, it can come up with answers that are not specific. When the thread passes over the memory objects of the event that the brain tries to recreate, it can open up memory objects attached to others, that might not have been in this specific event. Since this part of the event wasn’t essential at the time of the event, it wasn’t specifically remembered. This could be a problem when someone is, for instance, a witness to a crime. The witness is asked to describe the perpetrator. The witness did not specifically look at the color of the perpetrator’s pants. Because this witness has seen many people similar to the perpetrator wearing blue pants, the memory can now unlock the memory object for blue pants, even when the perpetrator did not wear blue pants.

A similar form of confabulation can be formed in the following way: there are many people out there who have seen a certain event on television. They have also witnessed a similar event in person at a different time in their lives. Since these two memories share a lot of memory objects, they can start to intertwine and confabulate a new memory. Like this, someone can remember that they were present at an event they only saw on television.

Another form of confabulation can occur when a certain pattern that has been discovered can change over time. Since memory objects are reused, it is possible for these connections between them to alter somewhat. A person used to think a certain thing about a certain pattern, but now, because of experience, their perception of it has changed. The memory object previously used is no longer founded on the same underlying memory objects. They have changed somewhat. The overall conclusion is roughly still the same, but the person’s understanding has become slightly different. If this happens with too many memory objects of memories, this could lead to confabulation. If this happens too much, it will lead to incoherent memories and ultimately forgetting.

The last form of confabulation I want to speculate on is this: if a specific memory object that is unique to the event that has to be remembered has its plasticity diminished, it can still be “present” in the form of the other nodes forcing a signal to this area in the LTM where there used to be a node. This means that if this area is stimulated enough by the nodes that used to be connected to it, the node can recreate itself. This works only if a sufficient amount of nodes interacts. I can imagine that if there are not enough nodes, a new node can still be constructed, but elsewhere. Or a different path can be chosen than the one that existed originally. This would then also result in a confabulation.

I will speculate that probably a huge amount of memory in people’s heads is, in fact, confabulated. The older the memory, the more confabulation is in it.


Forgetting is, of course, partly the result of the loss of plasticity over time. I have speculated that the LTM must be built up out of many nodes. These nodes are mixed and matched to make up new memories. This means that the nodes that make up a certain memory can partly be “exercised” by thinking of a different memory that uses the same nodes. Of course, these can not be exactly the same nodes, since two memories must be inherently different, but they can have some nodes in common. The synaptic bonds between these nodes will then still increase their plasticity, even when a different memory is accessed. The nodes that are unique to this specific memory, however, will be forgotten, if this specific memory isn’t accessed often enough. So even though the pattern that was recognized still lives on, these unique nodes, or memory objects as I have been calling them, will be forgotten and so will the memory of this specific event. This is the fate of many unique memory objects that once lived in human brains.

From confabulation to forgetting

If the changing of memory objects leads to confabulation, then it follows that if they change too much, the memory would become incoherent. If some memory objects change too much and others do not, they might not be able to recreate an overall memory object that is logical. It will not be able to trigger a further pattern in the LTM. It has been forgotten.

Assessment of risk and the unconscious

When we experience moments of great anxiety or pleasure, the memory objects related to these events will tie themselves greatly to these emotions and their hypothetical inhibitory or stimulating effects. When some of these memory objects are later rediscovered in other events, their emotional and stimulating or inhibitory functionality is triggered. When a person accesses memory objects that have been accessed during a high anxiety event, they will start to feel a bit anxious. The amount of anxiety they feel is dependent on the amount of memory objects that the current event and the high anxiety event have in common.

An example: someone experiences a traumatic event, like a plane crash. This event involves an airplane, but also a pilot, other personnel, falling and hitting things hard, fire, smoke, and so on. All these memory objects will attach themselves to high amounts of anxiety. When they are accessed as part of a different event, let’s say something was left on the stove, burned, and created a lot of smoke, this new event will trigger that part of the emotion that was felt during the traumatic event. And so a person who has been traumatized might get more anxious when they see a lot of smoke.

Empirical evidence weighing machine

So, if memory objects can be connected to emotions, they can be mixed and matched, and when they are, they can encounter many emotional events in many mixed and matched states. When memory objects then form a bigger memory object, this memory object must then have a hodgepodge of both positive and negative emotions in all sorts of degrees. This could explain why some people can have a “bad feeling about this”. This is simply the effect of a sufficient amount of memory objects that have been involved in anxious events that pump enough anxiety hormones, and therefore inhibitory hormones for neurons, to make those people wary. This will become the focus of the next article about decision-making. I will argue that this feeling is the unconscious.

The evolutionary punch that this ability has is great. A species that can subdivide patterns and can become wary when certain patterns are rediscovered becomes an empirical evidence weighing machine. A falling rock is not just dangerous for that moment, but all falling things can be dangerous. A falling object should always be perceived with a bit of anxiety. But those that are most like the event experienced, are perceived as the most dangerous.

It has to be noted that, no matter how effective this system is, because all patterns discovered will pave out plasticity whether they come from real life or the world of fiction, it is still a “dumb” system. So even patterns discovered in a movie, for instance, will, over time, when watched enough, become something that the empirical evidence weighing machine will start to weigh. So people could, for instance, grow attached to the idea that there must be a hero that swoops in to save the day. The idea is that any pattern that is observed, were it in real life, or, for instance, in a movie, will create plasticity in the LTM. This will be used for future understanding of things. There is no separate section for fictional things you saw in your life and one for real life things. They both pass over and reinforce the overall pattern in the same way.

Why meditation works

Meditation is a method that people use to, among other things, calm themselves. Now that you have read this article up until this point, it will not surprise you why I think meditation works. Meditation is a form of thread control. It can, for instance, focus on a mantra. This mantra could be a nonsense word repeated over and over. This word should then not have any emotional connections. Another way of doing this would be, for instance, to focus on a certain rhythm in breathing. The purpose of these things seems to be to pass the thread over innocuous memory objects, so that this will flood the emotional hormones out of the body, since anxious (and pleasure) memory objects are simply not accessed anymore. So focusing on innocuous memory objects will calm the heart rate and the breathing, and the emotional hormones in the body will deplete. I speculate that it will also lead to the removal of blocking agents in the brain, so that after the meditation, decisions can be made with a “level head”.

Both concentrating on breathing or mantra will also prevent hyperventilation, as they involve breathing out fully, thereby getting rid of all carbon dioxide in the lungs. This on itself seems to me to also diminish anxiety, or at least, that is my experience with hyperventilation.


When humans (and probably all mammals) discover new patterns that are non-threatening, they get a feeling of success. They have explained and predicted yet another part of the world with the overall pattern in the LTM. Experience this one thing too much, however, and boredom sets in.

Boredom seems to set in when too many memory objects are recognized in a stimulus that has been observed and has been seen many times before. I can imagine that retrieving the emotional state of the previous experience from the LTM will lead to a diminished emotional response. The emotional response of the initial event was one that was triggered by genetics (pleasure or fight or flight), but more on that in the next article. In the second passing of the stimulus, the brain can get access to these stored emotions. It cannot be surprised anymore, and therefore the emotional response has been numbed. This leads to a smaller amount of plasticity between these memory objects and emotions. These are based on the emotions felt and are therefore not triggered often enough to keep the high plasticity connection high. With the third passing, it will diminish even more, and son on.

So after a while, less and less pleasure has been gotten from a repetitive stimulus of, for instance, watching the same or similar movies over and over. That would mean that the connection would dwindle to zero. So what makes us move away from boring things? I want to speculate that somehow every bit of energy we spend in our brain carries with it a bit of frustration somehow. So if we dwindle our emotional connection to a certain thing to zero, we start to feel it in the form of frustration. We have recognized the pattern, and we no longer wish to see it. This would explain why bored people walk away in search of something more enticing.

In the next article, I will speculate that the amount of pleasure that we can retrieve from past experiences is tied to our genetic responses of anxiety and pleasure. The amount of boredom and frustration felt, therefore, would also be tied to these genetic responses.

Boredom seems to benefit us by making sure that we are not stuck wasting energy in a situation that will not lead to a better understanding of the world, or to some other benefit. Moving away from this and discover new patterns, or old patterns in new things, is a better option. And with this setup, it will naturally happen.

Identity as a collection of categories

Identity is like a Venn diagram of multiple categories. Below, I have created a simplified Venn diagram of what a steering wheel is. This definition only has four parts, while in reality you would have to add more parts to determine if something is s steering wheel. The definition is now: a round car part which can be used to control that car by using driving skills. It’s not a perfect definition, but you get the point.

A simplified Venn diagram of what a steering wheel could be. The understanding of the steering
wheel is a cross section of different categories.

It should be noted that words, like the memory objects that they represent, are leaning on each other like a house of cards. A steering wheel is a car part, a car is a vehicle that has a steering wheel. Memory objects must be intersections of different stimuli that have been experienced in the past. Therefore, the meaning of all words must be general in nature. The word “ball” doesn’t mean a specific ball, it could mean any ball. To refer to a specific ball, another word must be used: “that ball”. This must be accompanied by pointing to the ball, another memory object. The more words are stacked, the more precise of a meaning they can have. Without pointing, you could say: “That ball that you always played with as a child”. This way, both the speaker and the listener know what ball is meant specifically.

Words represent memory objects and behave like that

It must also be noted that words, like memory objects, can be mixed and matched. All the words I used to give a definition of steering wheel are words that can also be used in other definitions of other words.

See it like this. Supposedly, you don’t know a language, and you look up a word that you have heard in a dictionary in that language. The definition of the word will be in that language, so you need to look up all of those words as well. Those definitions are themselves made up out of words that have to be looked up, and so on.

I think that it is inevitable that you will end up in loops. You will ultimately end up with definitions made up out of words that you have looked up earlier and made you end up where you are now. I will argue that this will be true for all the dictionary. All meanings of words are looped together. Like a house of cards, they rest on each other. None of them have the “true” meaning. Memory objects work exactly like this. No one memory objects represents one thing. They are crossroads between the understanding of different external stimuli that have things in common.

Language as the memory object builder

If words are the representation of some higher memory objects, then society has a big influence on the formation of memory objects in the heads of its people. Because we all need to understand words in the same way, we must all see the world in that same way. This might not be so apparent when we are talking about words like “ball” or “steering wheel”, but what about words like “man”, or “European”? Many people disagree on who are men and who aren’t. And when are you a European? If you are born in Europe? Or does your family also has to be European?

Even though these words can be interpreted in many ways, it is necessary for society to have a good definition of these words. If they haven’t, it leads to confusion. So people will give their own definition of what these words mean. And let me remind you that this is not about simple semantics. If you accepted someone else’s definition of a word, you will also accept the underlying memory objects. This will change your pattern of the self and will influence your future decisions.

When it comes to these disputes about the meaning of words, what they are really about is identity. The words are just a manifestation of the memory objects that they represent. These memory objects, however, decide how you will look at the world. Therefore, when people are told to change the definition of words in their head, it can create conflict. People don’t want understandings of words in the overall pattern in their brain simply because someone has instructed them to have these. Their definitions stem from all that they have experienced in life. Their memory objects are all entangled with each other and follow a certain pattern. Asking them to alter the definitions of words is like asking them to disregard their overall pattern and substitute certain memory objects with others that do not follow the logic of the overall pattern. People will resist this. Explain why people should accept certain definitions, don’t tell them to. This way, the logic in the overall pattern of the person that it has been explained to might change, and the definitions of the words might then change accordingly, though it still depends on what is already stored in the brain.

Internally oriented memory objects

So far, I have written about memory objects that are used to explain the outside world. They are meant to “catch” external stimuli, and on the basis of those stimuli make a prediction about the future. There are, however, also memory objects that guide the inner thought. Examples are question memory objects, guardian memory objects, or guiding memory objects. They are based on patterns that have been discovered in the human’s own thinking and the perceived thinking of another. I will write more about these memory objects in future articles.

The self

A lot has been written about a concept called the self. I want to add my two cents by giving my definition of what I would call the self. The self is the overall pattern that exists in the brain with which the brain recognizes stimuli and compares them to the averages of previous experiences and their emotional connections, together with the genetic responses the brain was born with. These emotional connections lead to weighing of options. The weighing of options is ultimately done on the basis of the averages of past experiences and their emotional connections, and the stimulus that triggered the loop of the thread. The conclusions that are drawn by the pattern of the self are seen as personal decisions of the self.

The pattern of the self is the biggest memory object, build up out of all other memory objects.

In conclusion

Memory objects are the result of certain stimuli having things in common. They are the fundamental building blocks of the memory. Their emotional connections can lead to certain (in)action.

The recognition of an external object is related to the recognition of its underlying memory objects. The threshold that is needed to come to a recognition is personal and probably at least partially genetic.

Memory objects make you understand the world around you. But how are decisions made? I will explain how I think that decisions are made by the brain in the next article: the intricate pattern of the brain: decisions.