Holonomic Brain Theory

The holonomic brain theory, originated by psychologist Karl Pribram and initially developed in collaboration with physicist David Bohm, is a model for human cognition that is drastically different from conventionally accepted ideas: Pribram and Bohm posit a model of cognitive function as being guided by a matrix of neurological wave interference patterns situated temporally between holographic Gestalt perception and discrete, affective, quantum vectors derived from reward anticipation potentials.

Pribram was originally struck by the similarity of the hologram idea and Bohm’s idea of the implicate order in physics, and contacted him for collaboration. In particular, the fact that information about an image point is distributed throughout the hologram, such that each piece of the hologram contains some information about the entire image, seemed suggestive to Pribram about how the brain could encode memories. Pribram was encouraged in this line of speculation by the fact that DeValois and DeValois had found that “the spatial frequency encoding displayed by cells of the visual cortex was best described as a Fourier transform of the input pattern.” This holographic idea led to the coining of the term “holonomic” to describe the idea in wider contexts than just holograms.