The background how I came up with this question derives from information theory so I am not sure that it will formulate it well.

What I am looking for it is the process how our brain forms patterns. Lets say I have word “Hello” (It is a complex example, but lets say that our brain is blank and sees it for the first time and somehow it can form only this pattern).

How our brain (neurons, synapse connections) “knows” that certain signals should be grouped and after “H” waits for “e” and “l” and so on.

Why it makes certain connection or just “cuts” and waits for new one.

As our brain is so complex, I am not looking for all scenarios how in could be influenced in terms of chemical neurotransmission, but I am looking for a basic principle of how it is done, i.e., how our brain manages to translate patterns into certain connections inside the brain.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't have time to write a full answer, but I'd suggest you look superficially into how artificial neural networks learn new patterns: although the structure of many such networks is not biologically plausible, some of the more general concepts are both motivated by the biology and support our understanding of the biology. The short, simplistic answer is that patterns themselves are associated with more abstract concepts. It isn't likely that the brain processes "hello" as h-e-l-l-o, but as a full word: hello, whether heard or read. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 22, 2017 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ 3/1 Well, I want to bridge from the information theory perspective to the biological perspective, but still want to keep biological background. I know that “Hello” it is not that great example as it is already complex structure and looking for very basic principle or lets say very beginning how those patterns are created. $\endgroup$
    – Vy.Iv
    Mar 23, 2017 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ 3/2 Scenario: If we receive different sound frequency or combinations of different light lengths, somehow our body should differentiate inputs and “assigns” it to neurons (guessing). Based on this assumption I looking for an explanation that could explain how those differentiated and “assigned” signals to neurons, creates a connections between each other. How those neurons that represents different signal spectrum end up connecting and form certain mirror of that signal complexity. $\endgroup$
    – Vy.Iv
    Mar 23, 2017 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ 3/3 Brainstorming: Is it almost the same timing and chemical released that allows neurons connect together. Is it near the same location where signals are sent and neurons forms connections there with help of chemicals. $\endgroup$
    – Vy.Iv
    Mar 23, 2017 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ I'm a little confused by what type of answer you are looking for, because you talk about information theory but you aren't using any of the terminology of information theory (except "information" which is pretty broad and colloquial). I think you are also asking for answers at too many levels of analysis: you are asking about information and systems level organization and at the same time asking about neurotransmitter release and spike timing dependent plasticity. Can you try to clarify a bit what you are looking for? $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 23, 2017 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


The key here is the Gestalt principle formulated in the early 1900's consists of a set of 'laws' describing how perception elements are grouped into recognized objects. The Gestalt laws "prescribe for us what we are to recognize 'as one thing'". Recent data support this view (Pelli et al., 2009).

On a more fundamental level working memory is essential in this process. It is a form of short term memory. An example where short-term memory comes into play is when information is cut up in pieces, like in your example - 'Chunking' is the organization of material into shorter meaningful groups to make them more manageable.

Short-term memory is supported by transient patterns of neuronal communication in the regions of the frontal, prefrontal and parietal lobes of the brain. Long-term memories are maintained by more stable and permanent changes in neural connections widely spread throughout the brain.

The hippocampus temporarily stores information and gates it to the long-term memory. Typically, information is transferred from the short-term working memory to the long-term memory within just a few seconds,

- Pelli et al., Cogn Neuropsychol (2009); 26(1): 36-49


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