Each of us experiences a slice of the same reality, but a different slice. Our shared genetic heritage automatically, pre-consciously, fills in missing data. This process will be discussed in Neural Connections. Our visual space does not have holes; however, the internal worldview also contains our needs, fears, wants, and goals.
Although we share a broad genetics commonality, which specific individual differences, like neural threshold, affect the way sense data is categorized.
From the figure:
The external world is complete and connected. The initial neural response is to categorize the individual sense’s data and send the categories further into the brain for enhancement. Now philosophers may argue about whether the world exists or is it just imagined by one’s mind, but I’m not a philosopher, so I just brush that solipsism away.
We see a portion of that complete reality. It is often incomplete and unconnected. Does it surprise you to know only thirty to one hundred of the millions of impulses traveling up the spinal cord make it beyond the brainstem. That limited number is further culled by the limbic system. Only a very select few reach our frontal cortex and our conscious attention. Of course, information from cranial senses is also processed, but in the limbic system and primarily a cortical lobe.
Before sensory data is available for conscious consideration, the limbic system further organizes data into categories which simplifies by truncating oddball information. All of them together can be labeled a situation. The situation is inductively compared against remembered situations. Some of our needs may be satisfied in one memory and others satisfied in other memories, the emotional value of a situation is not purely good or bad. Nonetheless better situations imbue the new situation positively, while worse ones imbue the new one negatively.
Finally, we use our intellect, and sometimes our conscious mind. With learned knowledge, we smooth and connect further, creating an internal worldview from which we will base our actions. Nonetheless, with our information sparse and our understanding of connections between information imperfect, consistency and logic may be enforced only within limited domains of our worldview. This is the source of cognitive dissonances— for instance, how a warm, caring individual in personal dealings can be a ruthless shark in business.
Although I’ve shown processes between the figure areas as uni-directional, actually there is a rapid interchange of preliminary recognitions which are shared across the various, simultaneously occurring processes. These use remembered concepts with a fitting to believed relationships, which sharpens and smooths our primitive worldview.
Learning with Uncertainty