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Neural Tribe Doctrine

Context: please, if you haven’t yet, read my post Neural Tribe (an Introduction to the Meme) to get a better sense of where I am coming from with all of this.

Neuron Doctrine

We’ve known that any given organism is composed of individual cells as far back as 1839 when Theodore Schwann proposed so.  It took about 50 years (until 1888) to extend this notion to the nervous system.  Santiago Ramon y Cajal was first to seriously posit that nervous system consists of discrete (stand-alone) individual cells (neurons).

“When he started conducting research, Cajal was, like most scientists of his time, a reticularist, believing that the nervous system was a continuous network of interconnected fibers (Iturbe et al., 2008). The major proponent of the reticular theory was the German anatomist Josef von Gerlach. Based on observations made with his gold chloride method, he argued that the processes of contiguous nerve cells fuse to create a meshed network (Gerlach, 1871). In 1888, Cajal started a systematic histological study of the nervous system, making several descriptions and discoveries that would lead him to challenge the widely accepted reticular theory. These important discoveries took place between 1888 and 1894 and were published in the Revista trimestral de Histología normal y patológica (López-Munoz et al., 2006).” (source: Scholarpedia)

Neural Tribe Doctrine

Cajal’s Neuron Doctrine was that nervous system (i.e. you) is made of stand-alone neurons (of neurons separated by synaptic gaps).

The Neural Tribe Doctrine is that neuron is a species, that each of us is a neural colony, and that all of us – across various body-forms – are part of the same neural tribe.

Once again, Cajal’s Neuron Doctrine is : a nervous system is made of disconnected, stand-alone neurons.

Neural Tribe Doctrine re-connects the disconnected neurons into one Neural Tribe :

1.  neuron + neuron + [….] = One Neural Colony/Local Neural Oneness

2. neural colony + neural colony + […] = One Neural Tribe

Cajal found neural separateness.  I am talking about neural oneness, about a platform for identification and compassion, and about the possibility (some day) of translocal neural oneness.

Translocal Neural Oneness

From the NT (Neural Tribe) perspective you are not a human but a neural colony that resides in a human body-form.  And so am I.  Both you and I are neural communities made of billions of stand-alone neurons yet each of us experiences ourselves as a singularity, as a oneness of am-ness.  Your am-ness, your integrated sense of being and presence is local to you.  Indeed, as a field of awareness you are a locality, a mobile space of experience (I wrote about this in more detail in Lotus Effect). What if we could connect two or more localities of presence (such as you and I) together?  This is what I have mused about in my earlier post Brain-to-Brain Interface (which is  only a theoretical possibility at this time, but, nevertheless, a possibility).  If we could somehow wire two neural colonies together, then you and I – the two localities of oneness, the two singularities of presence – would become one trans-local neural oneness.  Our neural colonies would meet and merge into one trans-local neural pow-wow.  A precedent of this sort (if or when it happens) will likely change the narrative of human culture forever.

In sum, the Neural Tribe doctrine is threefold: 1) a neuron is a species, 2) each of us is a neural colony, and 3) we – as individual neural colonies – collectively add up to one Neural Tribe across the entire span of animal body-forms.

Play with the idea a bit, see what it does for you.

Neural Tribe Doctrine

Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the author of 7 mindfulness-based self-help books. Several of his books have been translated into Chinese, Dutch & Portuguese. Somov is on the Advisory Board for the Mindfulness Project (London, UK). Somov has conducted numerous workshops on mindfulness-related topics and appeared on a number of radio programs. Somov's book website is and his practice website is

Marla Somova, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the co-author of "Smoke Free Smoke Break" (2011).



APA Reference
Somov, P. (2018). Neural Tribe Doctrine. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from


Last updated: 4 Feb 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Feb 2018
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