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The Brain as Hologram 21

Once again the resistance the visual cortex displayed toward surgi- 
during the next several years. As he did, and as other researchers 
cal excision suggested that, like memory, vision was also distributed, 
became aware of his theory, it was quickly realized that the dis- 
and after Pribram became aware of holography he began to wonder 
tributed nature of memory and vision is not the only neurophysiologi- 
if it, too, was holographic. The "whole in every part" nature of a 
cal puzzle the holographic model can explain.
hologram certainly seemed to explain how so much of the visual cortex 

could be removed without affecting the ability to perform visual tasks. 

If the brain was processing images by employing some kind of internal 
Holography also explains how our brains can store so many memo-
hologram, even a very small piece of the hologram could still recon- 
ries in so little space. The brilliant Hungarian-born physicist and math-
struct the whole of what the eyes were seeing. It also explained the 
ematician John von Neumann once calculated that over the course of
lack of any one-to-one correspondence between the external world and 
the average human lifetime, the brain stores something on the order
the brain's electrical activity. Again, if the brain was using holo- 
of 2.8 x 10 (280,000,000,000,000,000,000) bits of information. This is
graphic principles to process visual information, there would be no 

more one-to-one correspondence between electrical activity and im- a staggering amount of information, and brain researchers have long 

ages seen than there was between the meaningless swirl of interfer- struggled to come up with a mechanism that explains such a vast ca- 

ence patterns on a piece of holographic film and the image the film pability.

Interestingly, holograms also possess a fantastic capacity for infor- 

The only question that remained was what wavelike phenomenon mation storage. By changing the angle at which the two lasers strike 

the brain might be using to create such internal holograms. As soon a piece of photographic film, it is possible to record many different 

as Pribram considered the question he thought of a possible answer. images on the same surface. Any image thus recorded can be retrieved 

It was known that the electrical communications that take place be- simply by illuminating the film with a laser beam possessing the same 

tween the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, do not occur alone. Neurons angle as the original two beams. By employing this method research- 

possess branches like little trees, and when an electrical message ers have calculated that a one-inch-square of film can store the same

reaches the end of one of these branches it radiates outward as does 6 amount of information contained in fifty Bibles!

the ripple in a pond. Because neurons are packed together so densely, 

these expanding ripples of electricity—also a wavelike phenomenon— 
are constantly crisscrossing one another. When Pribram remembered 
Pieces of holographic film containing multiple images, such as those 
this he realized that they were most assuredly creating an almost 

endless and kaleidoscopic array of interference patterns, and these in described above, also provide a way of understanding our ability to 

turn might be what give the brain its holographic properties. "The both recall and forget. When such a piece of film is held in a laser beam 

and tilted back and forth, the various images it contains appear and 
hologram was there all the time in the wave-front nature of brain-cell 
disappear in a glittering stream. It has been suggested that our ability 
connectivity," observed Pribram. "We simply hadn't had the wit to 
realize it."5
to remember is analogous to shining a laser beam on such a piece of 

filmand calling up a particular image. Similarly, when we are unable 

to recall something, this may be equivalent to shining various beams 

on a piece of multiple-image film, but failing to find the right angle to 

Other Puzzles Explained by the call up the image/memory for which we are searching.

Holographic Brain Model


Pribram published his first article on the possible holographic nature In Proust's Swann's Way a sip of tea and a bite of a small scallop- 

of the brain in 1966, and continued to expand and refine his ideas
shaped cake known as a petite madeleine cause the narrator to find

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