Walter J. Freeman - Observable chaos in EEG studies of the brain.

"Our studies have led us as well to the discovery in the brain of chaos- complex behavior that seems random but actually has some hidden order. The chaos is evident in the tendency of vast collections of neurons to shift abruptly and simultaneously from one complex activity pattern to another in response to the smallest of inputs.

This changeability is a prime characteristic of many chaotic systems. It is not harmful in the brain. In fact, we propose it is the very property that makes perception possible. We also speculate that chaos underlies the ability of the brain to respond flexibly to the outside world and to generate novel activity patterns, including those that are experienced as fresh ideas."


From a discussion on the Ontolog forum (

"What I find most exciting is the way chaos acts as an enormous well of new structure. Lack or order is not necessarily a bad thing. Rather it can be thought of as freeing you to create new structure (if something
is ordered its structure is bounded.)

For instance, W. J. Freeman's work makes much of the way an organism seems to continuously fold experience into new configurations which represent new perspectives on a stimulus. He makes a big point of there being no "meaning" for an organism independent of intent.

E.g. "Perceived time differs from world time in ways that are determined by the neural mechanisms of intentionality."

(Perception of Time and Causation Through the Kinesthesia of Intentional Action, 2008.

So the great thing is you get all this new structure (liberated by disorder.) From a meaning representation point of view this new structure could be thought of as constantly letting you find new relationships among data. From a linguistic point the new structure might be thought of as constraining what what can be said (to explain the detail of collocation, etc.)"