FAQ

Content

  • What is Mental Construction about?
    •  It’s a theory of how we think, building from neural properties to decision-making as well as role that significant steps in our genetic evolution have made to our decision-making.
  • One person declared: “You cannot think of two things at the same time. When our focus is on Spiritual Values, it is impossible for us to have lower thoughts such as greed or anger.”
    • That statement is wrong in a couple of ways. First, a person often has two simultaneous thoughts–one to respond to immediate environmental threats, the other planning how to satisfy onee’s goal. Second, the higher thoughts in our brains are built upon our more primitive imperatives.
    • It is true that we can override our emotional decisions with  conscious behaviors. That takes effort, as we all know, and that effort is not infinite.
  • You mention pattern-matching. Are you saying there’s a little computer in the head that compares them?
    • No, that is a just short-hand phrase that is well-established.
    • The actual mechanism is that the two patterns trigger the same downstream signals. This occurs due to repeated experiences invoking Hebb’s Law.
  • What is intuition?
    • A primary avenue through which we achieve intuition is with the Almost Gate. Concepts that are not identical are treated as the same.
  • Is there a Left-Right split in the brain? No, but there are lateral preferences in the cortex.
    • One hemisphere is dominant for language and handedness. The other hemisphere handles experience as patterns and sequences.
    • Left-Right split is too stark a term. The hemispheres communicate across the corpus callosum frequently as thoughts travel in our brain.
  • Do two thoughts go on simultaneously in the brain?
    • Yes, sensory data comes into both sides of the brain at the same time. They are handled simultaneously. The physical parallelism in brain and cortical structures make a single thought stream a needless assumption. Evidence must be produced to demonstrate the loss of parallel thoughts rather than visa versa.
  • What’s the difference between concept elevator and neural cascade?
    • They refer to the same process, but from different perspectives.
    • Concept elevator is the term for the increasing abstraction of our thoughts as they travel deeper into our cortex, especially the executive areas.
    • Neural cascade is the term for the decreasing fidelity of our current thoughts with respect to current physical reality, which explains how two people can have a different take on situation.
  • In the scope, what do you mean by Finite Mind?
    • Working storage is constrained, usually estimated as 7 chunks of information can be considered at once.
    • There also is the 100-step rule of thumb. From sensory input to highest cognition (if the sensation ascends that far) is about 50 transfers of neural information, with a corresponding 50 transfers from our decision to its execution.
    • In addition, each person has a cycle of interest, a limited set of concepts. Attention switches through one’s cycle of interest. Most easily noticed in meditation, when no situational items demand immediate action.
  • Why does Mental Construction call the brain a general rule extraction machine?
    • That’s not quite what right. The cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, is a rule extraction machine. It has a very uniform layered structure of neurons. Genetics, for example, creates an occipital lobe hard-wired to detect movement and edges. It’s the patterns or rules of experience which cement the connections that we use to identify objects and positions relative to us.
  • What is the difference between a word and a pattern?
    • Good question to refer to the glossary. A word is a specialized pattern that has a linguistic entity, used to describe our world, to enable us to understand it, communicate about it, and make it do our will. A pattern, in Mental Construction, is a collection of features that the non-dominant hemisphere uses. Communication across the corpus callosum allows the selection of the best description to be used.
  • How comes Mental Construction doesn’t discuss consciousness in any depth?
    • Establishing the link between neural activity and cognition was sufficiently daunting. Consciousness would add a complexity that would obscure Mental Constructions points.
  • What are all the neural pathways within the brain about?
  • Is the 100-step rule due to the corpus callosum?
    • No. The 100-step rule estimates the number of neural thresholds a sensation needs to surmount to be recognized and then reacted to. Although this is a simplification, it’s best thought as the count as the pattern travels forward in its hemisphere. The communication across the corpus callosum is a synchronization of patterns (word in the dominant and pattern in the non-dominant hemisphere).
  • Doesn’t fMRI already tell us how the brain works?
    • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging is the most detailed observation available of neuron functioning. It’s important to know that 1 mm surface area of the cortex’s 2000 sq. cm is analyzed. Despite that small area, the fMRI result covers a few million neurons with tens of billions of synapses. The optical nerve has 1 million nerves in it. Much smaller than the fMRI resolution.
    • fMRI does not give information about individual neurons or small group actions.

Operations

  • What’s the difference between blue underlined words and green underlined words?
    • Clicking on blue underlined words will take you to another page, which deals further with the words underlined.
    • Clicking on green underlined words will popup a message box with a footnote
  • I linked in to the site. Where should I start?
    • If you’re methodical, work your way through the Table of Contents.
    • Follow the links that interest you. That requires giving wide latitude to ideas not yet placed in context.
  • Why aren’t all the terms used explained?
    • They are when they are first used. Afterwards, you can click on the glossary in the side menu. It lists definitions as well as meanings used in the web site.
    • If you still can’t find the meaning, post a comment on that page. Then I’ll add the definition.
  • Why are there so many diagrams?
    • Many people organize information in patterns rather than words.

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