A new paper provides fascinating insight into how our brains amass information and organize and assess it in real-time.
The paper—Cliques of Neurons Bound into Cavities Provide a Missing Link between Structure and Function—proposes that “the brain processes stimuli by forming increasingly complex functional cliques and cavities.”
The full intro to the paper:
The lack of a formal link between neural network structure and its emergent function has hampered our understanding of how the brain processes information. We have now come closer to describing such a link by taking the direction of synaptic transmission into account, constructing graphs of a network that reflect the direction of information flow, and analyzing these directed graphs using algebraic topology. Applying this approach to a local network of neurons in the neocortex revealed a remarkably intricate and previously unseen topology of synaptic connectivity. The synaptic network contains an abundance of cliques of neurons bound into cavities that guide the emergence of correlated activity. In response to stimuli, correlated activity binds synaptically connected neurons into functional cliques and cavities that evolve in a stereotypical sequence toward peak complexity. We propose that the brain processes stimuli by forming increasingly complex functional cliques and cavities.
The cliques of neurons that grow and connect in real-time make up the transient “architecture” of awareness as it changes and responds to stimuli.
You can observe a process that seems to fit this description by simply turning your head and looking around. As your eye settles on something to consider in more detail, neuronic cliques will grow in your brain based on that stimulus.
Depending on the significance to you of what you are looking at, further associations drawn from memory and emotion will aggregate around it.
Interestingly, the concept of transient neuronal cliques that grow into larger structures fits very well with the Buddha’s Five Skandhas explanation of the path between perception and consciousness.
This paper also seems to explain why FIML practice works. FIML interrupts the (re)formation of mistaken neuronal cliques in real-time, thus preventing the (re)association of established mental states with new perceptions. If there was no mistake FIML affirms that truth.
By consciously interfering with habitual neuronal cliques, FIML eliminates the false and unwanted psychological structures that give rise to them.
FIML works because large (mistaken) psychological brain structures rely on reconsolidation through the continual processing of “new” information that falsely reconfirms them.
As such, human psychology to a large extent is an ongoing self-fulfilling prophesy.
Here is an article about the paper: Brain Architecture: Scientists Discover 11 Dimensional Structures That Could Help Us Understand How the Brain Works.