Mental Construction

Welcome to Mental Construction, the web site devoted to exploring a new way of explaining how the brain’s neuron features shape our understanding, thoughts, ethics, and behaviors.

Angel contemplating the world's disorder

Thinking about thinking

Two Types of Cognition

The neurons in our brains support two types of cognition – similarity and logic.

  • Similarity. The world is vast, amorphous, and only partly experienced by any of us. Items which are similar are grouped together. You will see the power of the neural threshold and how the increasing abstraction of ideas can fertilize new ideas.
  • Logic. Deduction has long been the main explanation of how we think or at least how we think properly. Logic and deduction are word-oriented and very powerful extractors of information embedded in its premises. Logic’s premises come from similarity, not from logic.

The idea that thoughts arise by association from similar thoughts has a long history. The origin of associations will be developed further under similarity.

Dual Process Theories

Mental Construction can be viewed as a type of a Dual Process Theory. Dual Process Theories assert that the mind has two operating modes. Mental Construction ties the two modes to biological properties of the brain’s neurons. Most other theories assert their modes based on behavioral observation. Daniel Kahneman titled his book Fast and Slow. Kevin Stanovich calls them System 1 and System 2 in his What Intelligence Test Miss. System 1 is intuitive. System 2 is deductive.

  • Similarity is essentially Kahneman’s Fast and Stanovich’s System 1. It is fast and requires no effort to use.
  • Logic is Kahneman’s Slow and Stanovich’s System 2. It is slow and requires effort to use.

Differences exist between Mental Construction and other Dual Process Theories but this site focuses on developing the features and role of similarity rather than in pointing out differences from other theories. A rounder understanding of creativity emerges by the end of the Mental Construction argument.

Enduring Question

Do you wonder how do we get a complete view of reality when we only see a part of reality?

I am a generalist, not a specialist in cognitive science or biological psychology (see Author’s Page). I have the utmost respect for the incredible advances which the field has made, especially in recent decades. Here, using the results of many scientists, I stitch them together to address questions which have bothered people for eons.

  • How do we conceive of a stable reality when at every instance reality changes?
  • Are there innate ideas we are born with or is everything we know learned?
  • What role do emotions have in thoughts?

Ordered Explanation

Mental Construction requires knowledge and explanation to appreciate it. Thus the discussion proceeds at several levels.

  • First the physiological-to-psychological path that sensory input takes on its way to becoming our internal view of the world.
  • Then we’ll look into the brain’s cortex and the neural Almost Gate feature that underlies our pattern-matching (similarity processing) that supports the psychological insights of similarity and categorization, and mapping.
  • After that, a look at the highlights of the development of the brain will contribute to our understanding of our behaviors and thoughts.
  • Finally, our thinking can be discussed from source of thought to concept elevation, the neural probability cascade, and the intertwined relationship of similarity and logic.
  • Mental Construction concludes with some further thoughts on similarity’s role on important questions of long duration.

The Mental Construction posts tie the ideas and information together in a more casual manner. They make their points without retracing the base arguments, using links to lead the interested reader to the relevant pages.


Under 30,000 Foot Banner in the left margin are two useful pages. The overview is the executive overview which can orient you when you’re just getting started. The summary is useful after you’ve become familiar with the terms and ideas.

Come, start explore with the important features of converting external reality to inner worldview.

If you see some highlights, discover the Almost Gate, the importance of cascading probabilities in neural hand-offs, or explore the development of logic from patterns in experience.

The Table of Contents presents the points in a sequential order and is always available in the top menu.


Sensory data into Thought

Sensory data from external to internal, with emotional weigh and more

Neural Connections have Some Regularities, shown mouse cortical neurons

Neural Connections have Some Regularities

Neural connections lead to Almost Gates; with Hebb’s Law, mental maps

Chart of organisms leading to humans

Each organism is built upon the prior

Brain Building starts with what is already available to develop new powers

Angel contemplating the world's disorder

Cognition has many depths

Understanding cognition and thinking has absorbed attention since antiquity

Newton Calibrating the World

Creativity & Mental Construction

Creativity & Mental Construction Divine inspiration or a subconscious process?