Aug 26, 2021
With sad fondness, I post the email conversation I had with the late Dr. Behrendt. When the EMMOSE idea occurred to me in 2013, I started exploring the literature, to find who had already started publishing. I found the late Gerald Edelman's book "The Remembered Present", which demonstrated that the hippocampus had the requisite 're-entrant' anatomy which would allow for buffering and binding of information into an experience. But the only actual model that I could find belonged to Ralf-Peter Behrendt. He was a German-born psychiatrist, working in the UK, especially with aging and schizophrenic patients. In 2010, he published (what I think is) his first paper linking consciousness to the hippocampus. And in 2013, he published a working anatomical model, which is the first paper of his I found. We began our conversation in 2013, and continued it until 2018, when I stopped hearing back from him. I was afraid I had said something wrong; offended him. It wasn't until 2021 that I found a death notice. I was always hoping to meet Ralf in person, and of course to interview him for the film. But also, I was sad because I felt I had lost a brother. We saw this problem the same way, and that connected us, across our differences. We absolutely did have differences about our respective models, which will play out in the conversation below. We even both published journal responses to each other, which I'll attach at the end. Those theoretical differences led me to feel I had to publish my paper, as well. There were elements (like the perception of mind and body) which I felt needed to be directly addressed. I hope that, despite some differences, Ralf's model and mine can be read as complementary literature. At least we agree on the pre-hippocampal story. Of course, I am posting these emails without Ralf's permission, my apologies. But I don't think there's anything in here that would embarrass him in any way. I'm sure he would've been fine with this. If I'm wrong, then I owe you one, Ralf.