Navigational-Mind theory



Awesome thanks! - that’s amazing - it is February already? Or am I losing it again (a possibility!)
I have to do a lot of review - I’m catching up on manipulating my computer enough to play along with the comp sci people (mumbling incoherently in a foreign tongue using google to pretend I know what I’m doing wannabe “script kiddie” creating some ugly sand castles ) but I’m so rusty on neuro.

I’m going to have to stumble around -something about his sense of timing and his ability to echo-locate - tie that in vaguely to HTM - his opinion of music - dancing - I have to check if he ever was in a TMS study (can’t remember how much progress they made with the semi mobile helmets) and or EEG and if he finds it easier to echo-locate moving or still. I remember him showing Ben some shortcomings relating to depth perception but I have to find and watch that clip over again. Thinking out loud… how long do I have to make my ramblings coherent?

also is the echolocation effected by priming? Do objects become clearer on “confirmation” by a person with vision? is there any increase in resolution over iterations? I have a lot of reading to do clearly.

Would be interesting to see the beetle in the box limitations too around these conversations. I have to look into blind blind versus blind visual conversations. I tend to think of things as possible being an inverse or different version of Mary’s Room. Language is really annoying after a while.

The other issue is the loop formed by making the click and hearing it as opposed to other echoes made with higher pitched sounds with more attack.

Also consistent with HTM maybe would be moments of surprise using echo-location - how much of their echolocation is accessible via conscious inquiry and what is black box. Also does this translate into dreams which re-nagivate just like a mouse in a maze (bad analogy but well studied)

I was watching Brian Borowski use sonar in conjunction with a service dog. I’ve never had a dog but
the theory of mind and tracking seem relevant.

Seems like from an outsider’s perspective like an interesting bottom up/top down field to study.

I’ll have to watch everything and revise.


This is absolutely fascinating! I went out and ordered your book from Amazon.


Good morning Tim

Daniel is my friend so I communicate with him often–I can relay questions to him at any time. He is fascinated by the brain so our one-on-one conversations are quite wonderful. Daniel is very articulate and brilliant–many of my insights came from dialogues with him. He is in Michigan from February 15th to the 19th–he is staying with me at the beginning and I am his transportation while he goes about his business. This is a turning point in his career and I am looking forward to our upcoming discussions. In other words, ask questions whenever the spirit moves you (grin).

A couple comments you made are interesting. “Daniel’s sense of timing is critical”–I haven’t given that much thought (thanks). I’ll ask him. Tying what he does to HTM would also be fascinating. I don’t have a clue how to begin that dialogue. Daniel has an operatic voice and perfect pitch–music is very important to him. He tends to meet a lot of blind musical savants because of his work (Ethan Loch recently in England). There is a savant triad–blindness, musical prodigy, disability (usually autism or mental deficiency)–that somehow plays into this discussion. As far as I know he hasn’t tried TMS.

Daniel and his colleagues have undergone extensive neurological examination–numerous EEG trials while he has echolocated (for example). That is how they discovered that echolocation was showing up in the “visual” cortex. Daniel actually “perceives” using sound. He sees with sound images. The sub-sections of the occipital cortex–areas thought to be just visual (V 0ne through Five)–can be selectively activated in Daniel.

I was with Daniel on a glacier in Iceland. There were huge deadly vortexes in the ice field–he could not perceive these (this is what he was pointing out to Ben Underwood). I about had a heart attack when he stood by one vortex and fished around with his cane–one false step and he would have died… It was summer and constantly twilight so the black rocks and white snow-field made an optical illusion that my visual system could not sort out. Daniel had no problem navigating, however; I followed him back down the glacier to safety. This was an emotional experience that stays with me.

Thanks for this conversation, Tim.


Hi Carlos

Thank you for your comment and for buying the book. As you read, please communicate with me. I am dealing with a systems theory so my thoughts are always in flux. I am hungry for dialogue about the theory.

I wrote three books and have two more in line. These books were a “thinking out of a theory” that was coming to me as I composed the texts. You will see what I mean as you read. The use of Socratic dialogue was almost automatic writing (heavily edited). I see know as I finish up a sci fi novel where that Socratic approach was coming from (it is a wonderfully weird world).

I came to this discussion group because of Jeff Hawkin’s recent comments about the importance of location-based processing in the neocortex. If the whole brain-nervous system complex evolved to enable straight-ahead navigation, then we will find location-based processing everywhere we look. Navigational consciousness is an umbrella philosophy. Jeff loves theoretical neuroscience, which deeply resonates with me. I call it cognitive philosophy. Such a birds-eye viewpoint allows systems thinkers (those who love to synthesize) to legitimately dabble at the edges of thought–speculation, science fiction, esotericism, philosophy, and neuroscience can all find a home here.

Thank you



ok thanks - you answered a lot of that for me - I’ve found some of the papers published on human echolocation and have started to read. The vortex - yes - Iceland is a really weird place.
I spent hours trying to find an old clipping on 3d space mapping in bats from Science but no luck
then I drove into a wall dealing with python but am back on this. The aussies dont’ mess around with their science reporting : I really like this segment on him (and they report on the studies as well)

Autism might make sense as having an overlap if you can’t use automatic visual cues (people regard social interaction as being what makes us human but it’s also kinda robotic and unconscious a lot of the time) also might be difficult to orientate your gaze to match if you can’t see what people are paying attention to. The eyes are the window to the attention (strikethrough soul) . That’s dog level powers though theory of mind is controversial in animals. However I bet a lot of emotional inflection is still picked up via tonality in conversation. Musical savant I knew about - I always like RR Kirk.

I really like that he can teach but the method uses the student’s independence in order to make the loop effective and take shape in the brain. Agency seems to be crucial to sensation.

Not to be crass but these Daniel seems to possibly answer the question Thomas Nagel brought up in the 1970s in his essay “What is it like to be a bat?” which another repacking of mind/body problem / hard problem etc etc. Though bats can click at extreme rates and higher frequencies which I found interesting like the higher speed listening of verbal audio in some blind individuals (oops that’s from this video lol). Probably a whole range of adaptations which would help enable echolocation. I have to find the cases of sighted attempting Daniel’s teachings too. Since the process is taught it creates a sort of commentary on subjective ontology versus epistemic objectivity - and unlike cultural norms like money it actually enables an observer independent view of the world. (to bastardize more Searle) In some sense it allows the blind to be closer to nature so to speak.

At any rate I’m thinking out loud too much - if I ever overstep my bounds as a sighted individual let me know - I’m actually a paraplegic so I’m fascinated by body schema and psychology but I might overestimate my “empathy” so to speak sometimes lol - some of us in wheelchairs are rather rude! But I whole heartily embrace any movement that liberates individuals to be more autonomous.


I haven’t seen that video in several years–it was good to review it (thanks). Many important people (Daniel’s good friends actually) were interviewed for that piece, especially Greg Downey and Julee-Anne Bell (Daniel’s travel secretary for many years). Daniel spends months every year in Australia. He is also seriously considering doing a doctorate with Greg Downey’s program at Macquarie University in Sydney. Greg is an anthropologist.

Daniel has a 2016 textbook called Echolocation and Flashsonar; it was published by APH (American Printing House for the Blind) in large print and audio. Daniel also did his master’s thesis on bats and echolocation. That thesis is available on the World Access for the Blind website–which has a ton of useful documents and links to his documentaries. Daniel was studied at the University of Maryland’s Bat Lab–with Cynthia Moss. Cynthia is a doorway into the complex field of animal echolocation. She has several in-depth books on the subject. She and Daniel have presented together at conferences. Lore Thaler’s research is especially insightful. She made comparisons between the visual areas (V 1-6) with the MRI scans of Daniel’s brain echolocating (also Brian Bushway and others). People like Cynthia Moss are especially delighted with Daniel–it’s like having a dolphin that can expound on their experience. Daniel went head to head with a dolphin once–no contest, of course; dolphins click at a rate about 10,000 times faster than humans (I might be way off–can’t remember exactly). Dolphin acoustic acuity must rival our own visual abilities. Melvyn Goodale is an early pioneer in visual research–his work was instrumental in my study of dual-process theory.

The unofficial take on children with retinoblastoma is that they are especially intelligent. That was my experience as a teacher. There is some kind of rewriting that happens when no visual input impacts a very young nervous system. Autism and savant syndrome are also tightly linked because of this rewiring.


Thanks again for helping me understand - this is fascinating. I’m waiting on the book and reading but sending Lore Thaler into youtube got me this and it also has Daniel and Cynthia Moss. Part of a series from U of A. Daniel delivers the first talk and asks “What is it like to be a hawk?” to inverse the Nagel question.


Good morning, Tim

I am curious how you became fascinated with Daniel’s abilities–and your interest in blindness and visual impairment generally. Can you tell me about the path that brought you to this interest?

I know that Daniel is at a crossroads in his career–he is 53 and tired of running a non-profit that is always starved for cash. He has book and movie contracts and a steady stream of speaking engagements, but I know he is looking to see where he should go from this point–kind of a mid-life crisis, I guess, although nothing seems to rattle him. Do you have any suggestions where he might go from here?

In the video you sent (thank you) Daniel talks about orienting and targeting in bats and human echolocators. This is dual-process theory. It is the auditory correlate to what we find in the rod/cone (where/what) visual system. This same duality can be seen in all the senses, which is to be expected in an embodied organism.

I see from recent posts that there is a discussion of intelligence. My own theory (navigational consciousness) suggest that dual-process theory requires intelligence to be balanced by wisdom. Intelligence is part of the targeting processing system; wisdom is part of the orientation processing system. If we create AI that is only focused on targeting we will end up with autistic systems–that’s my rant for this morning . (smile)

If you ordered Daniel’s book from APH be aware that it is huge because of the large print. I don’t know why they didn’t do a standard text.


I often wonder if autistic people fall for the social games that politicians like Trump play? Trump knows almost nothing on so many issues yet has power… perhaps he is secretly wise.

Oh I was on some wave of consciousness stuff - I have a background in biology and a degree in it. Information is becoming so ubiquitous now that that means less and less but I do note when people are way off the reservation so to speak. People talking about vaccines drive me nuts not because they haven’t spent hours reading about possible side effects it’s just they have no idea of all the other possible variables and endless amounts of complexity and chaos to rule out first. They make the worst gardeners.

I like the mission to empower the blind - I already forgot the source but one of the ones above said blind people have a hard time finding employment etc. Social hierarchy either has very passive roles for people with disabilities or the hero role. Christopher Reeve did the hero thing. He even did a movie which I still have to see. I think Daniel is one but I also know it’s exhausting to be that all the time. I burned out ages ago trying on a small scale and mostly live in confusion :slight_smile: The practical issues aren’t hard for me though. I always thank people when they give me unwanted help but it’s tough to not regress. Problem solving is fun - people solving not so much!

IDK about cash these days - we are in postmodern times with money. Spinal injury repair folks also have this problem. I think the best thing is Military Industrial Complex money - if you can procure that you exist in a land of endless liquidity. Some contracts never expire because hey life is scary! I can’t dream up a new ideology to pitch - maybe the blind can sense reptilians or something. U of A has a decent racket finally it seems but as Ai grows and Netflix pushes PDK and other hackeresque narratives I think these consciousness related issues will finally explode. Hearing Musk story tell about “limbic resonance” on Joe Rogan etc there is a huge vast space of imagination to work with. So if there can be “cyber” component - even if it’s a prop… $$$$. Use some ridiculous terms and maybe some male archetype related themes and most people won’t know (or care) if it’s tech or magic woo. Singularity resin - qualia wave etc etc. There are so many variations of black boxes to work with. Poor bitcoin :frowning: Environmental pings, echo downloads, spatial hacking, non EMS network node mapping…

Going back to distantly trump related politics and autism maybe the Simons can pitch in if they don’t already. Seems more on the technology side but one semi related article:

If echolocation has any computation heavy aspects - kinda like Numenta they are heavy on the comp sci / math side of things but more so. They have all kinds of pretty math / complexity related stuff as well.

I just got the book - it’s huge print yes - I think that might help my social media destroyed attention span. Listening to Jared Lanier for the 100th time.