The Fractal Geometry of the Brain


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Kitzbichler et al used two measures of synchronization across brain systems: 1 the "phase-lock interval" and the "lability of global synchronization. Essentially, this is a time-based measure of brain system coordination. The other measure, "lability of global synchronization" is a space-based measure. This measure tells you how global are the shifts in brain system synchronization, how broad are they, how far reaching.


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Leaving out the many wonderful technical details of their analyses, they found that both measures showed clear-cut fractal patterning. This means that the amount of time that different brain regions spend in sync is branchlike - with many short linkage times and fewer long ones. And the spread of these linkages across brain regions was branchlike too, with many small spreads and few large ones. These results, along with the evidence that has come before them, provide a much truer picture of how the brain is organized and how it works. Such is the core of basic research. The applications of these results may be considered to be virtually unlimited, and will over time impact every branch of applied neuroscience - intelligence, consciousness, empathy , body-mind medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy.

What I would prefer to speculate upon instead would be the broader implications. Indeed what these robust results within the brain suggest is a possible mechanism for the "Broadband Connectivity" we share with the rest of the natural world. Inasmuch as fractal dynamics in broadband synchronization exist at every scale of measurable reality - from quantum to cosmic, perhaps human consciousness is both simply and profoundly a portal through which such fractal connectivity flows.

Perhaps the linkages that so effect our growth and integration at the biopsychosocial scales extend much deeper into the roots of matter, and much farther into the cosmos than modernist science has ever imagined. Science appears to be nearing a period of neo-vitalism, with scientifically grounded ways of exploring the attractive worldview of our root-civilizations - that everything in life is connected and that all of the universe is alive within these connections.

Sure - some connections are more proximal than others. Kitzbichler et al. Similarly, one's life-partner will be more likely to drive you crazy than the moon.

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Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if certain systemic states encourage coherence, magnifying the connections among apparently separate systems. For example, the human stress response is a likely candidate for increasing the short-term coherence among biological, psychological and social processes. When you are stressed , your bodily systems band together, your psychological systems become clear and focused, and your social dynamics become coherent as well as you band together and form strict leadership hierarchies. Does human stress have broader impacts?

Can their effect be measured even as far as the quantum realm? Conversely, can quantum systems become "stressed" leading them to reach into our macro world? Maybe so, maybe not. One thing is for sure, this blog is already way to long and abstract to fully consider these possibilities. Perhaps another day..?

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I've just down loaded the article, and read the abstract. This article provides broader context for understanding. However the theortical ideology that pushes as you put "neo-vitalism" power in physiological understanding, is at the same time the limiting factor. While there appears to be never ending space in fractal development, the actual model constricts itself to a basic pattern. The redundacny of this pattern allows self containment like a software compression algorithm.

The analogy does not stop there as the human brain is limited in bot processing and storage capacity. This redundancy will ultmately corrupt the model by losing referential perspective. The robustness of a fractal structure must defined by its architecture. Like a nautilus, there is a beginning and an end. However the observational perspective is objective. Subjective perspective is limited within a space-time continuum to the present, despite the architectural structure. At least it is at the present time. This does not provide a basis for explaining the initial architecture.

The Fractal Geometry of the Brain

Precisely they cannot. In the space-time continuum, observational data is translated via linear perspective. The ability to translate somewhere between two and three dimensions, is like trying to smell coffee with your eyes. If you believed it were possible, the description would always be analgous and not precise.

So rather than saying fractal structuring occurs indepenent of the observation of physiological organization of mental processes, it is the fractal structuring which necessitates dependent observation.


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  • Such as referring to a three dimensional object like a tree as fractal in nature. How do we know that nature is not simply fractal and a tree is merely complying to the mandates of the preset architecture? A belated 1 year thanks for the reply Eric. Somehow - I didn't get notified that you had posted it, and I only just found it now. Maybe there is some meaning in a 1 year time lag in blog communication pertaining to your thoughts on "fractal nature" leading us to 'comply with her mandates?

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    I'm delighted to see this post here on Psychology Today. I'm a psychotherapist who has been using the principles of non-linear dynamics for some time now in talk therapy. Any one who is does talk therapy or really any similar work with humans knows that things cannot be counted on to proceed linearly. Dancing with the flow produces much better, deeper and transformative results in my experience. Besides being beautiful, they "felt" like the brain to me. Not very scientific, I know; but I did understand some of the thinking about fractals and their relationship to NLD systems.

    And the NLD brain being the most complex system on earth, well I am a clinical hypnotherapist but with a very scientifically centered practice and background. The idea that thought itself might operate according to a fractal structure has fascinated me lately, and brought me to this post. I very much appreciate the research and analysis presented here, and I want more! My question is, would it be possible to set up a clinically robust experiment that could "graph" actual thoughts? Many people working in psychological contexts have noticed the repeating pattern of thoughts, and also the seemingly random arising of certain thoughts at certain times.

    If the patterning of this arising of thought could be determined even for a limited number of specific thought-content pieces, since otherwise the volume of data would be too cumbersome - say, by assigning buttons to particular thought-topics and having test subjects hit the buttons whenever those particular thoughts arise over a given period of time, and weighting each to some arbitrary scale of psychological valuation, then creating a graph, we might better understand the nature of the arising of thoughts in our minds, and in turn may find new tools for helping people to exit destructive patterns such as being able to predict when the pattern will hit a difficult level and preparing for that event.

    Pincus, if you or others in the field who may come across this should actually read this and have any interest in pursuing it, please contact me!

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    I think the present work is a great start, but there may be incredibly powerful tools for working with the basic structures of consciousness which may or may not be linked to neural structures, in my opinion that we are on the verge of uncovering. I'm right behind you James ;- I have considered this problem too. If we had the data, it would be awesome. Seller Inventory n. Book Description Springer Verlag, Condition: Brand New. Seller Inventory zk Book Description Springer. Seller Inventory ING Ships with Tracking Number!

    Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Publisher: Springer , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title Reviews the most intriguing applications of fractal analysis in neuroscience with a focus on current and future potential, limits, advantages, and disadvantages. Buy New Learn more about this copy.

    The Fractal Brain Theory & the Unification of Neuroscience with AI & Psychology

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