Mental Architecture v1.4

Part Of: [Mental Architecture] project
Followup To: [Mental Architecture v1.3]


Less of a jump than v1.3, but still a worthwhile place to “save my work”.  Significant new features include:

  • Consolidation Of Working Memory
  • Improved Sensory Specificity
  • A Home For Emotional Processing
  • Explicit Brain Architecture

Consolidation Of Working Memory

Adopts the Alternative View, contra the “Standard Model”, as put forward by Postle (2006) Working Memory As An Emergent Property of the Mind and Brain. Abolishes the Visuo-spatial Sketchpad and the Phonological Loop and replaces it w/ the contents of perceptual memory (and semantic memory, etc).

Improved Sensory Specificity

Reintroduces some of the sensory details already present in Mental Architecture v1.0, and adds a few organizing distinctions (e.g., exteroceptive vs interoceptive)

A Home For Emotional Processing

For months, my Emotion Generator module has lacked a comfortable home. Now, following Damasio’s gesture at homeostasis, I finally have a home for the “big six” emotions (Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy, Sadness, Surprise). Specifically, I conjecture that these emotions are produced in topographic map located in the middle of a processing stream, whose data flows from interoceptive (e.g., hormonal) sense organs.

Explicit Brain Architecture

  • The Vision processing stream starts with Area V1 at the back of the head.
  • The Audio processing stream includes six tonotopic maps within the primary auditory cortex.
  • The Temporal Indexing module, which serves episodic memory creation, is performed by the hippocampus.
  • The Salience Attention modules comprises the bottom-up attention network.
  • The Directed Attention module comprises the top-down attention network.
  • The Central Executive module is housed in the pre-frontal cortex (PFC).
  • The Embodied Self is the Sensory Neuromatrix which is the cortical homunculus.
  • The Action Instigator module is modulated by the direct & indirect pathways of the basal ganglia.
  • The Action Engine is the Motor Neuromatrix which is the primary motor cortex.
  • The Action Evaluator is the premotor cortex.
  • The Action Planner module is the Supplementary Motor Area (SMA).
  • The Pavlovian Conditioning module is the posterior parietal cortex.
  • The Agent Detector module includes the Face Detection submodule which is operated by part of the fusiform gyrus.
  • The Favoritism Engine module is partially mediated by oxytocin.


Module Changelog

  • Removal: the Sensory Slave Modules modules b/c these are none other than perceptual systems.
  • Removal: the Modality Integration module from episodic memory, as this ability is provided by the two attentional networks.
  • Edit: relocating the Emotion Generators module from episodic memory & into interoceptive sensory processing.
  • Addition: Reflex Conditioning modules which bypassing knowledge queries en route to making hurried decisions.
  • Addition: Homeostasis Regulator modules which drive the brain’s endocrine system output.
  • Addition: a Body Ownership module within the sensory neuromatrix. The thing responsible for e.g., the rubber hand illusion.

Open Tasks

  • Incorporate Feature Integration Theory.
  • Incorporate the Somatic Marker Hypothesis.

Open Questions

  • What are the implementation details of semantic memory “files”, and frame memory “folders”?
  • Is lexical memory distinct from semantic memory?

Frustratingly Unaddressed Human Explananda

  • Music
  • Humor

5 thoughts on “Mental Architecture v1.4

  1. Okay, so, I never knew you were attempting a project so ambitious!

    The last person I’ve come across with such an exceptional mind but none of the attention he deserves is Kent Palmer. I’ve studied since I was 14. His work is nothing less than a synthesis of Continental philosophy, general systems theory, design theory, universal Darwinism, Pierce’s and Fuller’s philosophical principles, and contemporary mathematics. He’s a consummate generalist.

    Kevin, I think you are too. Your work is just as breathtaking in its own way. Whereas Kent is trying to work his way down in terms of abstraction studying the most esoteric shifts in the way we process information like the shift from mythopoietic to metaphysical thought, I see your work as working its way up. Whereas Kent’s trying to get from an interpreted language to machine code, you’re trying to get from machine code to an interpreted language. To grasp the full complexity of the human mind, every layer of abstraction has to be modeled. So, I find your work complementary in that regard.

    Anyway, I worked with Kent because I believe in his work. I’ve read enough of yours to say I believe in you too. So, I’d like to work with you. Or, at the very least, get a grip on your work.

    Do you think you could outline for me the articles or sequences I’d likely find relevant to understanding your theory of mental architecture? I’ve found your posts on hyperpoints, graphs, and categories most helpful because they are the concepts you use most. Also, what other concepts would you say you use the most and have you written posts about them? I’d love to read them, haha.


    1. And, yes, I’ve seen the Cognitive Architecture sequence! I mean more like nand2tetris. If I started with hyperpoints, graphs, and categories and I only knew those concepts, then how would I proceed? I’m just as interested in the math sequences relevant to implementation on an information vehicles as the philosophy relevant to the architectural diagrams.


      1. Hey Aldrich,

        Thanks for the kind note. I am indeed looking for collaborators, and happy to discuss what I see as tractable open problems. Would you send these comments to me at I’ll reply to your message there. Look forward to speaking with you!


      2. By the way, I’d check your spam folder! I’m not sure if it will go through to you or not.


  2. Re: central fixtures to my theory of mental architecture, I recommend

    The Interlocking Loop Hypothesis
    The Tripartite Mind
    The Three Stream Hypothesis
    ERTAS: The Engine of Consciousness
    The Social Behavior Network
    The Function of the Basal Ganglia
    An Introduction to Propriety Frames
    Computational Trinitarianism

    I’m actually rather embarrassed by my previous explanations of category theory, hyperpoints etc. I’m currently developing a revamped introduction to category theory, including (someday..) string diagrams.


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