Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Thalamus Uses a 10-Step Method to Learn Sensory Patterns. How Do I know This?


I got a few extraordinary claims to make about the thalamus. I say "extraordinary" because they describe certain functional aspects of it that are unknown to neurobiologists. I know, for examples, that it contains a 10-level sensory pattern hierarchy and that it uses a 10-step method to learn new patterns. I know that it needs timing signals from the hippocampus and that it needs to be pruned during sleep. I know this, not because I learned it from the scientific literature (most neurobiologists believe the thalamus is mostly a relay center for sensory signals on their way to the cerebral cortex), but because I found out about it from a couple of very old occult books known as Revelation and Zechariah. Years ago, I discovered that the books of Revelation and Zechariah contained revolutionary scientific knowledge about the brain and consciousness written in a metaphorical language intended to hide their true meaning. That is, until now.

The First and the Last: Sensory Signals

Chapters 2-3 of the book of Revelation contain seven metaphorical letters or messages to seven symbolic Churches in Asia. Each message symbolizes a different functional aspect of the brain. I have identified the message to the Church of Smyrna (Rev 2: 8-11) as pertaining to sensory processing in the thalamus. The message begins as follows (emphasis added) :
Rev 2:8. And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
The "first and the last" is a powerful metaphor. It means that only input signals that are emitted at the onset or offset of a stimulus are used by the thalamus. For example, the waveform in the illustration below represents a varying stimulus such as audio volume or light intensity. The horizontal line represents a given amplitude level. A and B are onset and offset sensors for that amplitude. Each fires a single pulse when the stimulus crosses their amplitude level in a specific direction: up or down.

The text makes a distinction between "poor" sensors (onset and offset) and "rich" sensors. Rich sensors fire continually as long as the stimulus is above a certain level. The thalamus uses only poor signals as revealed symbolically in verse 9:
Rev 2:9. I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
This is a different topic but suffice it to say that rich signals are sent to the cerebellum which is symbolized by those who say they are Jews and are not. The cerebellum is described in the message to the gentile church of Laodicea.

Ten Days of Tribulation, Death and Resurrection: Pattern Learning

Pattern learning in the thalamus is fully unsupervised. That is to say, unlike deep learning networks, it does not require that the patterns be labeled during learning. It discovers the patterns automatically from the sensory data. It consists of searching for discrete signals that frequently arrive concurrently. Let us take another look at verse 8:
Rev 2:8. And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
The phrase "who was dead, and came to life" is important because it explains an essential aspect of pattern learning: if a sensory input fails a test, it is immediately disconnected (it dies) but is quickly reconnected (resurrected) elsewhere. The actual test is explained in verse 10:
Rev 2:10. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
The most important metaphor in this verse is the word "days". My understanding is that a day symbolizes the shortest working interval which is approximately 10 milliseconds in the brain. The only test one can conduct in a single interval (or day) is a concurrency test. The phrase "you will have tribulation ten days" simply means that input sensory connections are tested 10 times in a row for concurrence. If they fail the test even once, they are disconnected. If they pass all the 10 steps, the connections become permanent.

The question that arises is this: why 10 steps? Why not 2 or 20? Keep in mind that this is a search for patterns that occur often enough to be considered above mere random noise. The choice of 10 steps is a compromise. Using less than 10 would run the risk of learning useless noise while having more than 10 would result in a slow learning process.

Lands, Sprouts and Olive Trees: Pattern and Sequence Hierarchies

According to my interpretation of the book of Zechariah (chapters 3-6), there are two hierarchies (the two olive trees) in each hemisphere of the brain, one for patterns (the thalamus) and one for sequences (the cerebral cortex). The pattern hierarchy has 10 levels whereas the sequence hierarchy has 20. This is symbolized by the 10 by 20 cubits flying scroll metaphor in chapter 5. Every pattern detector at every level of the thalamic hierarchy sends its signals to the bottom or entry level of the sequence hierarchy. However, the pattern inputs to sequence memory are not connected willy-nilly. The entry level of the cerebral cortex is organized into different areas (lands) assigned to inputs from different sensory modalities and pattern levels.

One of my more surprising findings is that actual pattern recognition does not occur in the pattern hierarchy, as one would be inclined to believe, but in the sequence hierarchy (not shown). When a sequence detector recognizes a sequence, it immediately sends a recognition signal down the sequence hierarchy, all the way down to the pattern detectors in the thalamus. This is accomplished by a mechanism that the book of Zechariah metaphorically refers to as the "branch" or the "sprout", "sprout" being the actual literal meaning in Hebrew. Indeed, feedback pathways are observed in both the cerebral cortex and the thalamus.

The House of the Thief: Pattern Pruning

I could write an entire book on Zechariah alone. I'm forced to leave a lot of good stuff out because one or two blog articles could never do it justice. There is one aspect of pattern learning that I want to mention here. It has to do with pattern pruning. The pattern hierarchy must be pruned periodically to get rid of redundant connections. A redundancy is a closed loop in the hierarchy.

Looking at the diagram above, we see a closed loop formed by sensor D and the pattern neurons A, B and C. This is forbidden because signals emitted by sensor D arrive at B via two pathways, D-A-B and D-C-B. One or the other must be eliminated. It does not matter which. Note that eliminating a pathway is not enough to prevent the closed loop from forming again. In the diagram above, either pattern neuron A or C (whichever is younger) should be barred permanently. That is to say, an offending pattern neuron should not be destroyed but simply forbidden from forming output connections. This prevents the learning process from repeating the same mistake. In the brain, pattern pruning is done during REM sleep because it would interfere with sensory perception during waking hours. In a computer program, it can be done instantly even during learning.

The book of Zechariah uses the flying scroll metaphor (chapter 5) to describe pruning. In fact, it mentions two types of pruning: pattern pruning (thieves) and sequence pruning (liars). This is shown in verse 4:
Zech 5:4. I will make it go forth,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely by My name; and it will spend the night within that house and consume it with its timber and stones.”
Neither the thalamus nor the cerebral cortex has the necessary timing mechanisms to implement learning and pruning on their own. Zechariah's text suggests that the testing mechanisms reside elsewhere in the brain. The most likely place for them is the hippocampus which is known to generate all sorts of precisely timed spike trains.


I have been saying for years that true AI will arrive on the world scene suddenly and that it would come from an unexpected place, the one place that neither atheists nor believers would suspect. We are not there yet but the time is drawing close. Hang in there.

See Also:

Two Simple Rules Govern Goal-Oriented Motor Learning in the Brain. How Do I Know This? Part I
Contrary to Claims in the Scientific Literature, the Cerebellum Cannot Generate Speech. How Do I Know This?
Short-term Attention Span Lasts 12.6 s and it Takes 35 ms to Switch from one Subject to Another. How do I Know This?
200 Million Horsemen and the Corpus Callosum


jeanpaul said...

I comment here just so you know your articles are being read, at least by me :)

Louis Savain said...

Thank you, Jean Paul. It's just a small stream now but it will grow into a torrent when the time comes.

Louis Savain said...

By the way, it's not just the brain and artificial intelligence. There are occult texts (e.g., Ezekiel, Revelation and a few others) that describe revolutionary physics that will profoundly transform energy production and transportation. I mean, we will have technologies that will give us clean, free and unlimited energy. Our future transportation vehicles will have no need of wheels and will move as fast as lightning. In fact, distance will mean nothing (it is an illusion) because we will have a way to move instantly from anywhere to anywhere. We will have entire cities that will float in midair, impervious to earthquakes, flood or inclement weather. Just saying. Take it or leave it.

Francisco MariƔtegui said...

Me too. Louis is "dialed in" to the universe stream. I too never missed an article. Congrats.

Louis Savain said...

Thank you, Francisco. I cannot boast because I did not design or create myself and I could not have figured anything out on my own. I owe it all to much greater, older and wiser powers than myself.

john driscoll said...

Louise, how would you respond to the theory that in order for something to be intelligent, it has to have a spiritual soul and be conscious? Christian proponents of this theory would likely use Genesis 2:7 as proof.

Louis Savain said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the comment. In my opinion, intelligence is a physical cause-effect phenomenon that occurs in the brain. Consciousness comes from the interaction between the spirit and the brain. Having said that, there are goals that a conscious intelligence will pursue that an unconscious one cannot unless it is directed to do so by a conscious person.

The appreciation of beauty and the arts, for example, is not physical but spiritual. A machine can create new patterns but has no idea whether or not they are beautiful unless it is instructed to label them as such. Conscious beings can decide on their own whether or not they find beauty in something completely new.

It all comes down to likes and dislikes. In humans, some are genetically inherited but most come from the spirit. In machines, they are either programmed or acquired through conditioning. We will have highly intelligent machines but they will not be conscious.