The Mental Database

Brown, Mr Kenneth H. (2005) The Mental Database. [Preprint] (Unpublished)


There is a more recent version of this eprint available. Click here to view it.

Full text available as:



This article uses database, evolution and physics considerations to suggest how the mind stores and processes its data. Its innovations in its approach lie in:- A) The comparison between the capabilities of the mind to those of a modern relational database while conserving phenomenality. The strong functional similarity of the two systems leads to the conclusion that the mind may be profitably described as being a mental database. The need for material/mental bridging and addressing indexes is discussed. B) The consideration of what neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) between sensorimotor data and instrumented observation one can hope to obtain using current biophysics. It is deduced that what is seen using the various brain scanning methods reflects only that part of current activity transactions (e.g. visualizing) which update and interrogate the mind, but not the contents of the integrated mental database which constitutes the mind itself. This approach yields reasons why there is much neural activity in an area to which a conscious function is ascribed (e.g. the amygdala is associated with fear), yet there is no visible part of its activity which can be clearly identified as phenomenal. The concept is then situated in a Penrosian expanded physical environment, requiring evolutionary continuity, modularity and phenomenality.Several novel Darwinian advantages arising from the approach are described.

Item Type:Preprint
Additional Information:The approach taken by this article has been further expanded elsewhere. Certain aspects have been further justified and extended.
Keywords:Database, index, memory, modular, mental, consciousness, neural correlates of consciousness, cognitive neuroscience, semantic, phenomenal, evolutionary psychology, quantum physics.
Subjects:Neuroscience > Biophysics
Neuroscience > Computational Neuroscience
Psychology > Evolutionary Psychology
ID Code:4521
Deposited By:Brown, Mr Ken
Deposited On:23 Dec 2005
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:56

Available Versions of this Item

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

Block, Ned, (1994), On a Confusion about a Function of Consciousness

Chalmers, David (1996), The Conscious Mind, p.xii-xiii

Penrose, Roger (1995), ‘Shadows of the Mind’, p. 39

“we are trying to grasp [consciousness] in some way – a genuine scientifically describable phenomenon, playing an active … role in the physical world”.

The thrust of Penrose’s work on consciousness is in this direction.

In The Large, the Small and the Human Mind (1997) p.102

“Maybe future science will describe the nature of consciousness but present day science does not”.

Penrose, Roger (1995), ‘Shadows of the Mind’, pp. 12-17. The purely computational approach corresponds to Penrose’s viewpoint A.

Libet, Bernard (2004), Mind Time, pp. 157-84

Searle, John R. (1980a), The Rediscovery of the Mind (1994), p. 45

Penrose, Roger (1995), ‘Shadows of the Mind’, pp. 14-15

Blackburn Simon(1996), Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy pp. 233, 287

Eddington, Arthur, as quoted in Quantum Questions, p. 195, edited by Ken Wilbur(2001)

Searle, John R. (1994), The Rediscovery of the Mind, pp. 12-13

Montero, Barbara (2001), Post-Physicalism, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8 (2), pp. 61-79.

Blackburn, Simon (1994), The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, p. 287

Gauna, Max (2000), ‘Montaigne and the Ethics of Compassion’, pp. 26-27 in English.

The original French is: “Mais comme une impression spirituelle face une telle faucée dans un massif et solide, et la nature de la liaison et cousture de ces admirable resorts, jamais l’homme ne l’a sçue”. (II xii 520, A)

Searle, John R. (1992), The Rediscovery of the Mind, p. 45. “The Chinese Room” demonstrates the semantic, phenomenal aspects present in a mind performing a data comparison action involving consciousness.

Penrose, Roger, (1989), The Emperor’s New Mind, pp. 23 – 29.

Penrose comes down on the side of Searle in commenting on “The Chinese Room”

Searle John R, (1992), The Rediscovery of the Mind, pp. 206-8

Libet, Benjamin (2004), Mind Time (Harvard University Press) pp. 70-73

Block, Ned (1994), On a Confusion about a Function of Consciousness

Koch Cristof (2004), The Quest for Consciousness, p.13

James, William (1879; 1890), quoted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:-

Epiphenomenalism … offered an intriguing variant of the argument from natural selection. If pleasures and pains have no effects, there would seem to be no reason why we might not abhor the feelings that are caused by activities essential to life, or enjoy the feelings produced by what is detrimental. Thus, if epiphenomenalism (or, in James' own language, automaton-theory) were true, the felicitous alignment that generally holds between affective valuation of our feelings and the utility of the activities that generally produce them would require a special explanation. Yet on epiphenomenalist assumptions, this alignment could not receive a genuine explanation. The felicitous alignment could not be selected for, because if affective valuation had no behavioral effects, misalignment of affective valuation with utility of the causes of the evaluated feelings could not have any behavioral effects either. Epiphenomenalists would simply have to accept a brute and unscientific view of pre-established harmony of affective valuation of feelings and the utility of their causes.

Penrose, Roger (1997), The Large, the Small and the Human Mind, p. 59

Mills, Robert (1994), Space, Time and Quanta. See Chapter 15 on “The Observer”, pp. 359-375

Chiu J., De Salle R., Lam H.-M., Maisel L., Coruzzi G. (1999). Molecular evolution of glutamate receptors: A primitive signaling mechanism that existed before plants and animals diverged. Mol. Biol. Evolution 16 : 826-838

Allman, John (1999), Evolving Brains, Scientific American Library, 1040-3213; no. 68, p. 20-21, 68-71

Gazzaniga, Michael, Richard B. Every, George R. Mangun (2002), Cognitive Neuroscience (New York and London: W.W. Norton), p 578 ‘The human brain is a unique amalgamation of evolutionary old areas and new areas that have been modified in predictable ways through expansion or reduction of existing parts, formation of new connections and adaptations …’ , Cognitive Neuroscience p. 578

Allman, John (1999), Evolving Brains, Scientific American Library, 1040-3213; no. 68, p. 23

Gould, S. J ., Eldredge, N. (1977), Punctuated Equilibria, Paleobiology, 3: pp. 115-51.

This theory doesn’t mean less steps per useful mutation; it only indicates that most of the steps are taken within short bursts, so continuity is conserved.

Churchland, Patricia (2002), Brain-wise, pp. 224-229 is the most easily accessible reference.

Naccache, Lionel et al (2005), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences vol. 102, p. 7713

Cited in the New Scientist of 21 May 2005, p.20

Libet, Bernard (2004), Mind Time, pp. 72-73

Gazzaniga, Michael, Richard B. Every, George R. Mangun (2002), Cognitive Neuroscience, p. 543

McCrone, John (2004) Science and Consciousness Review, who cites:-

Star EN, Kwiatkowski DJ and Murthy VN. Rapid turnover of actin in dendritic

spines and its regulation by activity, Nature Neuroscience 5:239-246 (2002)

Ehlers MD.(2003), Activity-dependent regulation of postsynaptic composition and

signaling by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Nature Neuroscience 6:231-242

Shimizu E, Tang YP, Rampon C and Tsien JZ. NMDA (2000) receptor dependent synaptic

reinforcement as a crucial process for memory consolidation. Science 290:1170-1174

Lisman JE and Fallon JR. What maintains memories? Science 283:339-340 (1999)

Wittenberg GM, Sullivan MR and Tsien JZ (2002),. Synaptic Reentry Reinforcement

Based Network Model for Long-Term Memory Consolidation Hippocampus


Becchio C., Bertone, C, (2005), Beyond Cartesian Subjectivism, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12 (7), pp. 20-24..

Koch Cristof (2004), The Quest for Consciousness, p. 34., Views from Artificial Intelligence

Searle, John (1997), The Mystery of Consciousness, p.45, containing his famous Chinese Room thought experiment, (1980a)

Two studies came to the conclusion that the “decision tree (symbolic) approach yields more accurate results than the neural network (subsymbolic) method.” They were by:-

- Saedler and G. Theißen ( publikationen-d.html)

- Werner Dubitzky, Martin Granzow, Daniel Berrar


Pinker Stephen, (2002), The Blank Slate, (Viking Adult)

Scott, Alwyn (1995), Stairway to the Mind, p.16

Penzias and Wilson (1978), while working as electrical engineers for Bell Labs.

Koch, Christof (2004), for example “The Quest for Consciousness”, p. 3

Hugh Everett III (1957). The phrase "Many-Worlds" was first used by Bryce DeWitt


Repository Staff Only: item control page