Patterns. Named and Unnamed

Forest edge with trunks, branches, and leaves vieing with each other ,

Trees, multiple types

Do you know this pattern?

Do you know this pattern?

Mouse monkey human brain

Mouse monkey human brain

Is there more than a tunnel here?

Is there more than a tunnel here?

There is a pattern for an E

A pattern for E


Patterns are abstracted sets of neuron firings which are yoked together by repeated experience. The most straight forward patterns originate as sensory input, but patterns also arise by further abstraction.

A concept, as defined in Robert Sternberg’s Cognitive Psychology (p 322)–an idea about something that provides a means of understanding the world. That is what a pattern becomes, as stored in the neural layer. The pattern becomes the basis for subsequent patterns.

Patterns are not limited to snapshots of sensory information. The sequence of inputs is importance. The synchronization of various sensory modes is important. And, with memory, the comparison of current with remembered gives a great amplification to our use of patterns.

Examples: faces, dogs, trees, hard, soft, coincidences, theories, etc.

Named Patterns. Categories

Most patterns have labels, names. The words in our language show the manner our linguistic forebearers found useful in organizing existence. With these we could share our experiences and work together.

The rich vocabulary of English gives an idea of the breadth of patterns observed and also noted.

Among stock market followers are chartists. They believe in underlying patterns of stock market action. They give names to these patterns—header and shoulders, breakout, reversal. The point is that they have a terminology for market conditions.

The distinction between artificial and natural categories is an important one. In society most categories are artificial, that is convention and man-made. The natural categories include patterns like trees. As Plato warned, let us carve nature at its joints. That is not an easy task. One consequence is that the building blocks of our internal worldview, our mindset are not aligned with natural reality, which can cause improper decision-making.

Influence of Learning

If you have not studied their theory, you still might see the head and shoulders pattern, but you don’t know the term or its relationship to other aspects of chartist theory, which highlights an important point. If the named pattern exists and you have not learned it, the pattern exists for you, unnamed or idiosyncratically named. However, this pattern exists independent of linkages assumed by those knowledgeable in the field.

If you don’t know of gravity, you may be satisfied with an explanation that objects seek their natural resting place.

Unnamed Patterns

Not all patterns have labels. Before the 17th century, our ancestors held things over their heads to block the rain, but we didn’t have the word ‘umbrella’ yet, but we had the idea. The pattern hold something above the head to block rain existed.

When you relate a personal experience of situation and results that are important to you, do you ever find as I do, that the words I use pull me away from the core meaning I’m trying to convey? If so, that is a sign that your interior reality of that experience is stored in a pattern that is not named.

Personal Differences in Patterns

From today’s headlines: Trump calling Omarosa a “dog” isn’t just racist or sexist. It’s part of a pattern.  Some people see the pattern, some don’t. That is a characteristic of all patterns. They are abstractions of diverse, multifarious situations understood in the light of personal experience. More

Characteristics of Named and Unnamed Patterns

The misunderstanding that can arise when a mental process is assigned to one hemisphere or the other must be risked here. First, the disclaimer—there is no claim that labeled patterns are confined exclusively to the dominant hemisphere with the non-dominant hemisphere restricted to its unnamed patterns. The two hemispheres synchronize patterns, named and unnamed, across the corpus callosum 75-100 times on the trip as sensory patterns proceed to integration with memories until their arrival in the prefrontal lobe for conscious consideration.

Following are some bullet points about the two subtypes of patterns. Hopefully they will trigger a pattern of differentiation between the subtypes in your understanding.

Labeled patterns

    • Social elements of mindset
      • Molds experience into defined objects
      • Can be easily shared
    • Domain:
      • Linguistic defined categories.
      • Cultural categories and framework
      • Scientific categories and theories
    • Learned quickly once language acquired
  • Unnamed patterns
    • Personal elements of mindset
      • Subjective clustering of important happenings
      • Difficult to be shared
    • Domain: personal coincidences
      • Concatenations of objects and results that have been important to you
      • Ex. Ratios of facial figures that compose beauty. We have a word but not a prescription to define
  • Both have critical learning periods controlled by concentration changes in neurotransmitters
    • Immediate sensory and motor control; language; social, then cultural and then scientific knowledge
    • Successful patterns are essential mastering the subsequent stages


Because patterns (named and unnamed) are abstractions, they have less detail than external reality making it possible to assert pattern matches when the patterns are at different levels of abstraction.

Mont-Sainte-Victorie. Cezanne

Mont-Sainte-Victorie. Cezanne

Paul Cezanne’s Mont-Sainte-Victorie evokes a mountain landscape although it lacks the detail we ourselves experience.

This identification between distinct patterns across the levels of abstraction is an important feature in our generation of ideas.

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