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The Brain Contains the Sky...and the Whole Universe

Molly Tamulevich's picture

The first time my father told me how everything was energy, I assumed he was embarking on one of his neo-pagan, folk-singing tangents that would wind circles around our original conversation and end with an awkward silence. I didn’t expect it to become a recurring theme in our household, prompting the purchase of various movies and books such as “ What the Bleep do we know about Anything” and “The Secret”. I didn’t expect to be so intrigued by the notion that there may be logic behind the mysteries that puzzled me since I was a child, a link between lucid dreams and extraterrestrials, serendipitous events and the moments when I felt like I had stumbled across a great truth. Controversial as it is, the Holographic Theory of the universe explains how many unexplained phenomenon occur in different disciplines, especially when it comes to understanding the brain.


Developed by neuropsychologist Karl Pribram, and quantum physicist David Bohm, the holographic theory explains the universe as a series of complex waves, and the brain as a means of deconstructing those waves into recognizable patterns. Using the Fourier theorem [1] they realized that the combination of wave frequencies form interference patterns in the brain and create new holographic patterns. This is why a certain smell or sound can bring up memories that seem unrelated; at one point in the past, they may have been perceived at the same time.
A holograph is an image that has the unique property of containing the entirety of the image in each piece. If I were to cut a tiny piece of holographic film off from the whole, it would still contain the whole image but in a blurrier form. A holograph is formed by superimposing two different light beams. It is a three dimensional projection of an object caught in the light. It can store an incredible amount of information and holographic technology is being used to exponentially increase the memory capability of computers.

According to Pribram, interference patterns caused by the clashing Fourier waves in the universe converge through the lenses of our various senses, causing a three dimensional representation of our perceptions. [2] We are, according to Pribram, living in a giant hologram. If our brain has holographic capabilities, it would not only explain how it can hold so much information, but also shed light on experiments carried out by Karl Lashley in which he concluded that memories were not stored in one part of the brain but distributed throughout it. Lashley extensively removed or damaged the brains of rats trying to locate the area in which they stored memories, but no matter where he experimented, they continued to perform learned tasks. This supports the idea that memories are holographic in that they are stored throughout the brain, not just in one location.

Conditions such as synesthesia also support the holographic model. If someone is able to taste words or attribute personalities to days of the week, it is likely that inputs to the brain are being interpreted through a different lens than those of non-synaesthetic individuals. It could be that the ears or eyes of someone with synesthesia are equipped to read inputs that most people block out. What would it be like to interpret the waves around us more fully? We can feel the sun and see the sun, but what if we were able to taste and hear the sun? It’s not that the waves are not reaching our tongues and ears, we either don’t have the receptors to interpret them or they are the wrong length for the receptors we do have.

Michael Talbot’s book, “The Holographic Universe” explains away dozens of unexplained phenomenon using the holographic theory, and it is in this real world application that the theory gets controversial [3]. If all memories are contained within all parts of the brain, what is to say that the image of the whole universe is not contained in each part of the brain? LSD experiments and memories of past lives seem to point to interconnectedness in human consciousness that could be explained by a holographic model. If all things in the universe were part of an enormous holograph, we would all contain the entirety of the whole within ourselves. That means that we would have stored within us everything that has ever happened in the universe. It would explain the notion of universal human consciousness, psychic abilities and past lives. It is impossible to test this theory, and although various disciplines have used it to explain the unexplainable [4], it will remain controversial until it can be proven accurate.





1) a brief description of the Fourier theorem

2) Intererview with Pribram about the holographic model.

3) Talbot, Michael, The Holographic Universe, Harper Collins, New York, NY. 1991

4) Pitts, Mary Ellen, The Holographic Paradigm: A New Model for the Study of Literature and Science Modern Language Studies, Vol. 20, No. 4, Literature and Science. (Autumn, 1990), pp. 80-89.,

5) A scientific American article describing the holographic universe

6) Comparison between the holographic model and the conventional