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I was wondering whether the brain contains processes that are chaotic in nature i.e. subject to great variance in the long run given minutely different initial conditions down to quantum fluctuations, such as is found in planetary orbits or the weather.

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  • $\begingroup$ See also psychology.stackexchange.com/q/26610/14382 $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 14 '21 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ Postulate: The more adversarial a brain is, the more chaos exists within it. Unpredictability is sometimes necessary within a limited game space where predictive actions play a role in outcomes. $\endgroup$
    – DJG
    Jul 27 '21 at 15:49
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Yes, it seems so, as long as you're willing to take a bit of control along with your chaos.

One can certainly build chaotic systems from biologically inspired neurons, and there is a whole branch of systems neuroscience dedicated to the critical brain hypothesis, the idea that optimal brain function arises from a whole system at a critical point on the "edge of chaos". Even a system on the "edge of chaos" has a lot of chaotic elements, and you'll find many papers on this written in journals interested primarily in mathematical chaos and its implications rather than only in experimental neuroscience.

A particular scientist in the area to follow is John Beggs; I'd highly recommend reading reviews authored/coauthored by him as a starting point to reading about this area.

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  • $\begingroup$ One can certainly build chaotic systems from biologically inspired neurons So? $\endgroup$ Jul 26 '21 at 6:58
  • $\begingroup$ @DescheleSchilder If you couldn't, it would not make sense to find chaotic behavior in a functioning brain. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 26 '21 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ @ BryanKrause One can built chatic systems from biological inspired eye cells. Is there chatic behavior in the eye? $\endgroup$ Jul 27 '21 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ @DescheleSchilder Not that I'm aware of, but if you couldn't then there couldn't be. It's also not just some non sequitur, people make and use these models all the time. See for ex: scholar.google.com/… $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 27 '21 at 0:50
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It is obvious from the start that the brain has to include chaotic, massive, parallel neuron activity. There is a correspondence between the outside world and the world of neuron activity. All physical processes must be able to get mapped to neurological activity, that is, neurons working in concert must be able to exhibit chaotic patterns if we deal with chaotic processes in the real world (say a storm). We would be helpless and frozen if this were not the case. Just as neuronal patterns (by which I mean the patterns of them firing) can show you a static chessboard when thinking about one or when you see one, by the same token, there is a chaotic pattern in the brain to be seen resembling a raging storm. So when you dream about a storm, a neurological storm can be seen by an observer watching youif (in theory). The pattern has a correspondence with a rea-life storm and therefore its pattern is chaotic.

And chaos has actually been observed. In relation to smell experiments have been performed that showed patterns typically associated with chaos (attractors). Different experiences of a smel revealed different patterns and different smells interaffected. After smelling a banana (for example) your experience of smelling cheese will be different from the one without bananas (pretty trivial but the underlying processes were shown to be chaotic). See also here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1631069103002002

Looking at the brain from the outside shows no weather or planetary systems. But there are patterns in the fairly static neurons to be seen that are chaotic. Precisely fit to their erratic forms (they look like frozen chaotic lightning flashes). Experiencing it from the inside you can dream of walking through chaotic storms. Complete with a thunder that rolls and lightning flashing. There are numerous experiments showing chaos in the brain. But they are unnesserary. I can reason this without them experiments.

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