So here’s a thought… is it possible that the neocortex and it’s patterning abilities are actually a hi res version of what’s happening in much older low res structures in the brain? Could the amygdala be literally equivalent to an 8 bit processor which tries to assemble some low res meaning out of direct inputs from the senses and filtered (compressed) information from the cortex, to return a snap judgement to the cortex, or directly influence behavioural output if that judgement is weighted heavily enough. Obviously this low res output would have to be transformed in order to be used by the cortex…but it would explain why emotions are still involved in higher level thinking…I think. After an urgent event requiring a snap decision the cortex could store a memory of the emotional context to be incorporated into the overall memory of the event for comparison to the next similar event. Events not requiring the same swiftness of action would still be coloured by emotional state in order to determine whether new information could be hazardous or fun and thus chart a course for behavioural interaction.
I think it’s much more likely that the old brain structures do processing entirely differently than the neocortex. I don’t see them as very plastic learning systems but instead as heavily hardwired functional blocks that have limited capacity to perform.
Fair enough…I just figure once nature figures something out it usually just remixes it into a more complex form. I don’t think that I was suggesting that it is doing processing on an equivalent level nor would it need to. I think that the amygdala could simply be returning state information at various levels which then are assembled into a complex emotion by the cortex. The complex emotion could be represented as an SDR or incorporated into one, I’m not sure about the plumbing here, and this emotional component would colour future interactions not requiring an immediate unreasoned response. I think this could explain why some people black out or have no detailed recollection of extreme very short duration events, because the cortex was essentially bypassed and a purely reactive behaviour occurred. I am looking at this from the point of view that nature never really throws anything away, to use an analogy…biology built an apple computer, then it built an apple II, but nature never throws anything away so it wired the two together, then it built a Mac and so on…always wiring the new to the old and transforming the output of the old to be compatible with the new…the outputs from old systems are incorporated into more complex patterns and representations in these new systems…but the older systems still work for specific purposes so that functionality is preserved and the neocortex patterns it all.
For the example of retina -> visual cortex, the signal is passed through something but it’s hardly a single dedicated nerve fiber.