Cognition – Integration – Imagination

Friday, August 6th, 2010 at 8:00 am.
by pre.

Your imagination was covered in the first lap around the spiral, your ability to cognitively change the world, at least your model of the world, and see how that would affect you, whether your alternative world is a better one than the real world. If so, you can begin to plan ways to try and make the world more like the one you have imagined. This is at the heart of cognition, of thinking.

You practised using your imagination, especially by imagining that your imagination was better. Trying to force your neural patterns into seeing how they would think if this were true, and by doing so training them to form connections as though it were true. With a plastic brain like the human brain, this quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We looked at Blank Page Syndrome, and found ways to fight that stupefying difficulty by imposing arbitrary restrictions, to narrow down the range of possibilities which confront you and push your neural connections towards a solution.

We encouraged you to try new things, to give you more raw material to feed to your growing imagination, to give it more symbols to collide and interact with each other, to give you a wider range of possible connections to feel your way through.

We also examined distraction activities, pointing out that often directing your consciousness towards something entirely unrelated to a problem can give your subconscious the time, and often the inspiration, to spot a solution to a problem that you’d have never have imagined if you’d concentrated your consciousness on only things directly associated and connected to the issue.


How does your imagination feed from and feed into the other skills on the spiral?

Awareness is not all that it appears. You may think you are looking directly at an object, and seeing it as it exists, but in fact the stream of light hitting your eyes is very noisy, your retina is unevenly coated with rods and cones, your eyes are filled with light from other directions, your view of that object is unlikely to be straight-on. In programming computers to try and achieve image recognition computer scientists have been foiled time and time again. The task is hard. It not only requires pattern recognition but also pattern completion. That is, imagining what the rest of the object looks like. Your awareness of an object is never of the object itself but how you imagine the object to be. It’s likely this is the only way it’s even possible to perceive with any understanding.

Likewise for your memory, for memory is in fact highly constructive. Most of the details of any given event aren’t stored directly in the connections between the neurons of your mind, they are instead constructed or imagined given the constraints of those things which are directly encoded. Your memory itself is also deeply routed in imagination.

Your view of your body, even the one you see in a mirror, but certainly the one you hold in your mind when looking at things other than yourself is also an imagined view. Control over your imagination can increase your control over your body, awareness of one leads to greater awareness of the other.

Your imagination is also the foundation of your social skills, since dealing with another person requires imagining yourself as them, conjuring up in your mind a model of their mind, understanding their position, their needs, their likely reactions. Without imagination, the power to build a model of another person’s view of the world, social interaction would likely be impossible, certainly very restricted.

The Meditation

Inventing stories is a very good way to practise and so improve your imagination. You’ll spend a few minutes in the meditation at the end of the month doing just this, constructing an imaginary story based on something you see in your walk.