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| The unusual property of holographs, of
embodying the whole, led Dr. Karl Pribram, a distinguished
to apply this model to the study of the brain/mind. Initially,
was attempting to explain why “memory engrams” did not appear to be
within the brain. The traditional mechanistic model of memory
that memories are established by specific micro-circuits or cell
(an atomistic approach) which should be localized in the brain.
experimental evidence demonstrated that learning and memory were
in laboratory animals despite the removal or destruction of large brain
areas. There did not seem to be a one-to-one correspondence
brain sites and particular memories. This fact has historically
a fundamental enigma in the study of the brain: how and where are
In Languages of the Brain (1971), Pribram explained how psychological processes could be based on holographic principles. The neuro-circuitry of the brain, with its own standing wave patterns, could serve as a referent beam and interact with environmental stimuli (other wave patterns) to produce complex wave interference patterns, spread over areas of the brain. The resultant wave interference patterns are stored holographically by neurological processes over both small and large volumes of the brain, with different interaction patterns superimposed upon one another. This might explain why attempts to isolate particular memory engrams have been unsuccessful.
A holographic model of memory and the brain allows for the storage of immense amounts of information. Scientists have developed ways of taking “multiple holograms” which can record billions of bits of information within a cubic centimeter of a thick holographic plate. In multiple holograms, successive wave fronts are superimposed in infinitesimal layers upon each other by varying the angles of the projecting light beams. Layers of neurons provide the holographic film necessary to record successive interacting wave patterns. This would be a highly efficient way to encode immense amounts of information, and to analyze and synthesize it.
On one level, Pribram suggests that the whole brain might be taken as operating holographically, while at another level, this holograph would be composed of innumerable small “patch holograms.” He explains: “The holograms within the visual system are patch holograms. The total image is composed much as it is in an insect’s eye that has hundreds of little lenses instead of one big lens. ... In each patch, the activity of the cells creates a wave front; I believe that the interaction of these wave fronts is what you experience. You get the total picture all woven together as a unified piece by the time you experience it.” (1979, p. 80)
An essential feature of Pribram’s model was the proposal that the same mathematics used by Gabor to develop holography (Fourier transforms) is used by the brain to analyze data on sensory, perceptual, imaging and memory processes. Fourier transforms entail methods of breaking any complex wave interference pattern into its component frequencies. Laboratory data confirmed Pribram’s prediction: in effect, the brain/mind performs mathematical Fourier transforms on wave patterns established in the neuro-circuitry of the brain.
Although Pribram regards the brain as operating holographically, he does not believe that there is any “laser beam in the brain”–that is, any source of coherent inner light, equivalent to the point source laser light used to produce holographs. In an Omni interview, Pribram explains:
Pribram: Both. First it was a metaphor. Then ... a model developed, because the mathematics fitted the data gathered in several laboratories around the world. There are no laser beams in the brain. I’m simply saying that the brain performs certain operations, which can be described by Gabor’s mathematics, to code, decode, and recode sensory input. (1982)
The radical implications of Pribram’s holographic views become evident when we consider the nature of the underlying “frequency domain,” which contains the information potentially available for analysis by mind and brain. The brain/mind operates in a mathematical way coding and decoding information (wave patterns) out of the underlying frequency domain:
The frequency domain deals with density of occurrences only; time and space are collapsed. Ordinary boundaries of space and time, such as locations of any sort, disappear. ... in a sense, everything is happening all at once, synchronously. But one can read out what is happening into a variety of coordinates of which space and time are the most helpful in bringing us into the ordinary domain of appearances. (1979)
| From a mystical perspective, the
most needs to be expanded to include the whole human being as a quantum
system of electromagnetic influence, and this is centred within the
Further, the mystics describe there as being a point source of supernal
light ‘emanating’ out of the plenum within the higher dimensional
of the Heart. This description of the origins of
from a point source rooted into higher dimensional Space, is the same
of the Universe and the quanta as suggested by science!
investigations of the holographic paradigm have to consider the zero
condition, or laya center, established in the Heart–what the Dalai Lama
calls ‘the indestructible drop,’ and is the Monadic Source of human
Such a model of consciousness certainly would establish the basics for a holographic psychology, not dominated by the head doctrine. Just as the brain operates holographically by mathematically analyzing wave interference patterns so that the ordinary world of images and objects appears out of the underlying frequency domain, which contains all the information potentially available–so also might the heart. Thus, the mind focuses a particular reality out of this underlying domain, acting as a lens to reduce Mind at Large to an ordinary world of objects and images manifest in space and time; but this is not the complete basis of the human holograph.