to Tree's branches
back to Welcome on to Conclusion
How Does It Work? Maybe by a Change in Frequency
The following idea is purely speculative but is a useful example.
We adopt the suggestion that although the brain performs many tasks simultaneously, a person gives attention to only one at a time. According to this idea, if I try to think two thoughts "at the same time," the best I can do is to flip my attention back and forth between them. A second suggestion is that it takes a definite time, e. g. 25 milliseconds, to form a thought. Then if I think of Thought A followed by Thought B, it takes 50 milliseconds before I can flip back and repeat Thought A; my pattern of neuron activity would repeat every 50 ms.
But now suppose that Thought A is a remembered word I heard a few minutes ago, and Thought B is a word I just heard you say. If the words match, most of Thought B involves the same neuron activity as Thought A. Now when I think the two thoughts "at the same time" or actually alternate between them, much of the same activity repeats every 25 ms. That is, when I switch from non-matching thoughts to thoughts that match, some of my brain activity jumps to a new higher frequency --- to 40 Hz in this example, from a previous 20 Hz at best. If my pleasure-system is sensitive to such a jump in frequency, then any time a new thought matches a thought already in mind, a spasm of pleasure would result.
This outline conforms with some scraps of knowledge in neuroscience but is put forward mainly as an example --- to demonstrate the generality needed. The jump in frequency depends only on the two thoughts matching; it doesn't matter at all what character the thoughts themselves have. Outstandingly, pleasure-from-matching seems to cut across all varieties of thoughts, and the quest for a mechanism with the needed generality is open. The outline above is just an example of the kind of answer we have to seek.