Category: Mental Construction

Why is our internal reality stable when the external reality is always changing?

Live by the Word

Facts are surrounded by words

I spend a lot of time reading words, writing words, and thinking in words. And I’ve noticed a peculiar feature which sometimes happens to me. I start following the words of people who are involved in a dispute – both sides – more than I refer back to the actual actions involved. My thought train…

Superstitious Behavior and Uncertainty

Superstitious man in suit with fingers crossed

Imagine this situation. A pigeon is being trained to peck at a lever to receive reinforcement – a typical behavior modification experiment. Let us suppose that in this case the pigeon learns the sequence of desired actions while its head is tilted to the right. The head tilting is not part of the actions the…

Learning by Ignoring Details

Input enters black box. output exits

Lately I have been trying to see if I can program the Propeller microcontroller chip to act like a neuron. Using the Hydra kit—propeller chip, SPIN programming language, and peripheral drivers precoded for a game machine—I’m overwhelmed by the eight hundred page guide, the intricate links between the components, and the electrical know-how presumed but…

Pattern-Matching and Invariance

Seawall with waves crashing against it

In neuroscience, the process I call pattern-matching is often called invariance. Yohan John in Quora raises the question and suggests the form of the answer: How does your brain discover similarity in the midst of so much dissimilarity? The answer is that the brain somehow creates invariant representations of objects and patterns. What is invariance?…

Another Ball in the Air

Some politician’s words remind me of a scheme of an old boss of mine. I asked my boss after a department meeting, “Why did you suggest the company do such an oddball project? You already complain that we can’t even finish the projects we have.” He chuckled, then gazed at me through half-lidded eyes. “Whenever…

Brainstorm Short Circuit

When my right hand shaking started to affect my hand writing, I converted fairly easily to keyboard writing. I’d been programming a computer since my early 30s. Yet, when it continued worsen and I could no longer draw boxes, label them, and connect them with arrows, I lost a lot of brainstorming ability. I had…

Complicated Thought

One function, many inputs

It surprised me to realize that there is a second way in which thoughts can be complicated. Complicated thoughts being those that require intense concentration to understand. Many Inputs to Function The typical way that I label thoughts as complicated occurs when there are many variables to consider simultaneously for an important problem to be…