Teksty z Ulicy. Zeszyt memetyczny, 2017, nr 18, s. 11-42
Despite 40 years of discussion the concept of memes still raises numerous controversies. Main problems
are: the characteristics of memes as biological and cultural phenomenons; demarcation of
events that are memes and aren’t memes; neurophysiologic background of meme existence and
informational capacity of memes, and as a consequence of those problems - inconsistent terminology.
Prerequisite condition of memes’ existence is a fixation of them in the memory. Memory,
as a neurophysiologic event, is based on: mechanisms of stimuli encoding, stimuli summation,
structural and functional modifications of neurons, and further modifications of the connection
force within the neuronal networks. There are (among several existing) three basic paradigms of
these processes: the Pavlov-Skinner’s model of stimuli reinforcement, Hebbian model of synapse
weight and Squire’s standard model of memory consolidation. These mechanisms allow explaining
the neuronal background of both, declarative and procedural memory, which are distinguished by
E. Tulving. Researches on cognitive processes with functional brain imaging techniques suggest the
possibility to identify neuronal representations of memes, being specific pattern detectors or gnostic
units postulated by D. Hebb and J. Konorski. Possibly, neuroanatomic representations of them are
cortical minicolumns. Information transfer within the cultural and cognitive processes involve permanent
signal encoding and transcoding. The mechanism of neural stimuli encoding (topographic,
frequency and chemical codes of the brain) are sufficiently recognized for the purposes of memetic
explanations. The results of neuroimaging of topographic localization of words (ideas) within the
human brain cortex suggest, that basic rules of neurobiology may be involved in the memetic processes.
These are namely: the rule of topographic representation and the rule of contrast increase/
amplification. Revised characteristic of memetic events should involve the description of encoding
processes and motivation and emotional mechanisms of memory as the crucial conditions of meme
acquisition, propagation and evolution, within the meme life-cycle.