08 March, 2011

The Dot-Connect Theory

A few months ago, I was contemplating on association of ideas that people form and wondering how some are able to remarkably connect seemingly random things and come up with beautiful analogies or examples. This is a phenomenon we see in everyday life but it suddenly struck me that it is all so elegantly connected.

This enabled me to come up with a hypothesis, which can perhaps be one of the models to visualize Information Processing and subsequent stages in the Mind. Doubtless several similar theories/hypothesis may have been put forth by specialists who have devoted much more time & energy on these subjects and also gained academic competence. I would also like to point out that the subject deals not so much with the Information Gathering of the brain, which includes Memory Formation, Pattern Recognition etc (involving such specialized things as pyramidal and stellate neurons of the cerebral cortex and the gating type and nucleus reticularis neurons of the thalamus) but more with what happens in the mind after that.

Brain vs Mind: This article makes the fairly obvious distinction between the visible and divisible (hence quantifiably studiable) brain and the invisible and indivisible mind. The former is being systematically studied at the the level of individual neurons and we are just beginning to appreciate some of its functioning. But the latter is - by all accounts so far - an almost indefinable thing. Yet, it may not be far-fetched to say that it is the mind which seems to be the key for several genetic traits - be it just biological ones or (what some may consider as bio-illogical) re-incarnation related ones. I am willing to stand corrected here but to the best of my knowledge, no species has been yet known to carry neurons cells after death or give neuron cells from itself to its offspring - yet quite a few instincts come pre-programmed. My article may perhaps trigger studies on these and similar lines.

Though neither neurology nor psycho-analysis are my chosen fields, at a very surface level, I have been fascinated by certain highly specialized studies involving how neuron cells activate light up in various parts of the brain based on the subject matter or sheer empathy in a shared experience (for instance, a music concert may see the same kinds of neurons getting activated in different listeners sharing the same experience). Yet, given all these, sometimes it is easier to miss the forest for the trees. So, my venture in sharing my model below!

For want of a better term, I am going to call this subject Dotomatrix for now. Though volumes need to be written to express myself fully on this subject, for now (due to paucity of time and space), I will limit myself to a fairly simple synopsis of my postulate…

Highlights



  • Every individual picks up bits and pieces of information during the course of life.
  • These are on various fields, subjects and topics (be it mathematical formulae, everyday news, musical facts, philosophical thoughts or literary learning).
  • Each bit of information is stored in various parts of our brain.
  • Each bit of information can be visualized as a discrete dot.
  • To continue the visualization, the brain can be seen as a rectangular canvas or even a multi-dimensional space which houses these dots.
  • The mind monitors this information gathering process and shapes it in various ways.
  • Each person finds some connection between some pieces of information either because of (i) external influence (like reading, learning from or discussing with others), (ii) by introspection and analysis, (iii) personal experiences or (iv) by a mere association of ideas.
  • Normal people may often find connections in an orderly, progressive and predictable manner (for instance, 2+2 could be connected with 2+3 or 200+25000).
  • Creative people, geniuses and highly introspective (or those with weird imagination) may find connections between two seemingly unrelated topics - it could be as much a leap as a simple 2+2 being connected in their brains with an obscure Greek philosophy or a volcanic eruption somewhere(to give extreme examples).
  • Each connection that a person finds represents a connected dot.
  • The connection of any dot can be with one or more dots - like a hub and spoke route map of a major airline (but of course the brain is more than just 2 dimensional). To give a simple illustration: a tiger could be connected to a forest and a zoo in some people; it could be related to a national park & other animals in a few others; in some cases, it could include all the above connections plus connections to strong or scary people that one knows or hears about (and numerous other things).
  • Thus, the discrete bits of information become analogous within the brain as the person evolves and matures.
  • It should however be noted that not every bit of information needs to be connected with one or more bits; many may remain unconnected pieces for lifetimes, depending on the type of individuals and the evolution path of each.
  • Thus, the process of individuation can be defined as the metamorphosis of digital information into analogous flow of ideas.
  • With millions of bits of information picked up in the course of life, every individual may connect the dots differently.

  • These connections made in various ways can broadly be classified as:



  • (a) Assimilated Connections (AC): Most often, our dots are connected faster for us by others who have already made the connections have a knowledge base, which saves us years and decades that we would have spent were we to have figured those connections ourselves. Which ensures that there are certain fairly standard and common connections that is there in most people who attend regular courses in schools and colleges, read the same kind of literature (or newspapers), learn from the same gurus, watch the same movies (or programs) and so forth.
    (b) Genetic Connections (GC): Some of these when assimilated over several generations, can become genetic connections.
    (c) Independent connections (IC): Yet, there are hundreds to millions of unique connections that every individual makes too, during the course of his/her life through analysis or association of ideas.
    Un-connecting Dots (UC): Due to various reasons (non-relevance of connections at a later date, forgetfulness, amnesia, dementia, Alzheimer’s etc) people can also lose connections between various dots over a period of time.
    Total connections (TC) Formula: Thus the Total Connections = Assimilated Connections plus Genetic Connections plus Independent Connections minus unconnected dots. Thus,
    TC = AC+GV+IC-UCUniqueness: This TC is unique for every individual at every point in life and this is what eventually defines and personifies every person and provides a distinct identity to each.
    More than humans: There can be little doubt that almost all animals with reasonable sized brains (to the degree that man can perceive and understand), connect dots in various ways (appropriate season – migration – route maps - mating – change of season – reverse migration chain is a simplistic example of this that is seen in numerous animals and birds).
  • Real life ramifications: Some of the greatest scientific discoveries, most elegant mathematical solutions have been brought about by people like Newton and Ramanujan with an ability to connect what may appear like remote dots to most normal people. Likewise, some of the biggest truths of life have been established by seers and philosophers who could connect seemingly remote observations and cite analogies in an impactful manner.
  • The Dot-Connect model has several other real life applications of which a couple are given below.

    Education: Connecting dots is helps memory develop phenomenally. Current day education is more focused on giving millions of dots by way of tons of information (most of which students hardly apply in day to day life). This creates a tremendous stress on memory, nervous systems and the whole psyche of students, since most of these discrete dots only cater to an exam, a contest or some other short term goal. Were education to be geared to facilitate students to improve their grasp and memory by helping them make connections faster between the various dots (wherever possible), their capabilities would be enhanced exponentially.

    Clinical Treatment: A study of overstressed people will reveal that their brains/minds are over heated with too many connections (most of which are formed unintentionally by people because of traumatic experiences or depressing circumstances). A good psychologist can now consciously approach the treatment from the perspective of analyzing the many unwanted or even malignant dot-connections and help untangling these or even helping the patient erase some of them to reduce stress levels.

    Personality Assessment: A study of how people connect dots would provide at least a very rough insight into their personalities. The simple sample test below illustrates this.

    Ravikiran’s Dot-Connect Test

    This is a simple psychological and personality test which can be given to almost anyone in any situation and age. This is definitely no representation of the complexities of the multi-dimensional dot-connections in the brain (or my Dot-Connect Theory of Information Processing) but only a simplistic, quick view process in office/work-space/school/college kind of environments.

    • A plain paper with a simple rectangle filled with dots can be given to each candidate along with a pen.
    • Each candidate is asked to connect the dots within a fairly short specified time (say 5-7 minutes) in whatever manner that comes naturally to him.
    • With hundreds of dots, the possibilities for connecting them in various permutations and combinations are almost endless. For instance,

    (i) Some people may connect it in the shapes of various animals;
    (ii) Others may find connections like an aeroplane/car and so forth;
    (iii) A few may come up with simple connections;
    (iv) Some may come up with complex and intricate connections;
    (v) A rare few may connect almost all the dots;
    (vi) Most others may only connect a few dots and
    (vii) Some may connect them in a completely shapeless manner

    • The manner in which each connects will be a window to his/her personality.

    Interpreting the results

    The parameters for interpreting their final connections and determining personalities are numerous and the subject is huge. But it needs much more thought and study, which I will hope to find sometime soon.

    Meantime, I will welcome your thoughts and comments on what I have penned thus far...