last night i was thinking about well, thinking. i was wondering how our minds put thoughts together, because it obviously isnt through words, symbols, or anything like that. i think that its possible that every thought we have is old memories sewn together. for example, how does a sketch artist come up with a visual of a person? somebody describes a face, and they draw it. the description is obviously a memory. the drawer, however, needs to piece things together. he would be able to draw a certain type of feature on the person from his memory of seeing a similar feature on somebody else. i went on and on in my head all of last night, trying to find a case where thought wouldnt be a compilation of memories either directly or indirectly and i couldnt come up with anything. all our thoughts lead back to our previous experiences. if anyone has a theory along these lines id love to hear it.

If you take this back to birth, there will be strong genetic and environmental influences on the initial brain map. Some might argue that these early developmental stages re responsible for determining raw personality and aptitudes - and so how we think.

I wouldn`t dismiss that we dont think in terms of language or symbols; skilled linguists can often “think” in different languages, whilst many mathematical geniuses have claimed to think in terms of shapes and landscapes, rather than mere numbers.

There is no doubt that experience provides inspiration for most thoughts, but I dont think this need always be the case - there is scope for original thought/invention.

I believe that our memories provide a base-line, or foundation, for new thoughts. In order to process new information, or come up with ‘new’ ideas/concepts/creations etc, it is necessary to compare/build upon/use the memories of our past ideas/concepts/creations/thoughts. It would be impossible to learn/think of anything new if we didn’t remember our past thoughts/experiences etc. Perhaps our memories even provide a default context in which to think/come up with ideas/learn etc… i.e. the perspective we choose to come at the world from…?


ive thought that memory is like a big web. like lets say the thought of a car. its got alot of other thoughts associated with it, and those thoughts have others associated with that, so its just one big web. and there would be different levels of association, kind of like the ones that are actually relevent. like when you think of a car, you think of driving mabye. while other times you could think of a car, and instead you would think of the bad smell that was in it one time a few years ago when you forgot about that Sub you bought that you put under your seat. but thats all just guessin, i really have no idea.

what i would be interested to know is how exacally something like that can be represented in some sort of form. i dont think that it would be very easy to look at some cell in the brain, and say, “yep, thats the memory of that gal i saw walk by a few minutes ago”. I think that is the huge leap that we need to figure out. how exacally does the brain encode sensory input and relate it to other encodings, all using bits of matter.

I reckon that thinking is like a network; one can travel from one thought to the next along a pathway and each time one uses that pathway, it becomes easier to travel along. Likewise, if it falls into disuse, then that pathway will be more difficult to progress along. Because of this, we can recollect thoughts and memories that we have often and/or recently thought about more easily.

Repetition and association is the key to remembering. We associate well because thinking works by linking.

I don’t believe all thoughts lead back to previous thoughts and/or memories as we are constantly receiving new data through our senses.

I think making a similar previously neglected connection again, or reforming the same connection is how we experience deja-vu.

I think thoughts are just interpretations of patterned electrical impulses that we can learn to interpret and form a manifestation of recognised electrical signals.

And this got me thinking something really profound. If what I sense and deduce and imagine is simply my interpretation of whats going on around me, what might someone else’s interpretation of whats going around them be like? Would it be different to my own? Would it be inconceivable to me?

Just because I’m told that a colour is red, does that mean that I interpret red the same as everyone else? I’m getting the same signals, but my interpretation of it must be unique and possibly unfathomable to others if it were to be experienced first hand.

I can communicate what I sense/deduce/imagine to others, but all I’m doing is helping the other person to link together their own interpretations of common, recognised signals. I can tell another person that what they are interpretting when they receive signals of the colour red, is also recognised as red by me. I am transferring a common agreement of the signal’s name, but I am not transferring my actual interpretation of it. That would be telepathy.

The area of thought and memory is so vast, for me personally its difficult to discuss as a whole. I think an important factor was raised in the above quote tho, in that thought and memory can have a genetic element. Studies have been done that show humans have a type of unconcious preference for certain things - that we have a kind of build in memory from the moment of birth that remains from our evolutionary past. A childs brain for example is far closer to our ancestors innate unsocialised brain than that of an adult. Unfortunately we loose much of the innate and natural behaviour that stems from ‘genetic memory’ due to the pressure of society, it affects the way we think and rationalise situations. We learn alternative ways of responding and behaving and many raw primal instincts (genetic memories) become lost or repressed. My understanding of the brain is so limited i cant even begin to explain how genetic memory works, it seems to me however to be part of the ‘unconscious’ brain which may manifest from the same area that primal instincts originate.

Have you ever heard the saying “He who controls the past, commands the future.”???
I think it has a special connection to the statements in the thread. I think every kind of influence comes from our own minds. We have thoughts, we have our limits, we have our ideas. I must agree with the others that the past determines much more than many of people could ever conceive. The most important influences come from education and enviroment I think. Being children we learn manners, but when we grow up, we reconsider it and do it in our own way. Everything what happens in the past also has influence on the future not only according to our minds.
One important point is ‘imagination’. I have been thinking about it recently and about the way it works. How do people get those certain ideas? How can they create this or that? That is really admiralbe in my opinion. I think the past and the expiriences are also a basis for our imagination.
Past and expiriences determine the ways of thinking.
But I have noticed that the mind can manipulate my mood as well.
Sometimes it asks too many question and I get doubts. That is very strange. Like Ayn Rand said :“Everything bad comes from the mind, because it asks too many questions.” (The Fountainhead)

I am of the opinion that facial expressions can influence the way we think.

I have made observations that I can alter my mood by, say, raising one eyebrow.
The muscles around my skull seem to act as a stimulus to my mood and the mood in which I think. By adjusting my facial muscles I can stay awake for long periods, without fatigue. Usually this is around 36 hours. Although I have done over 48 hours before.
Sure my body aches and my muscles are tired but my mind is alert, and this is why I conciously stop keepeing myself alert and try to relax and then sleep, to give my body a chance to rest. I joke to my wife, If I could, I would pay someone to sleep for me.

Whether muscle control around the skull can influence thoughts and memeries though, I have no idea.

Excellent and fascinating posts from all.
Silhouette, I just love that concept, it has fascinated me for a long time, unfortunatly I have made little or no progress with it. Congrats on putting it over so well, I fail dismally every time I try.

Peace N Love N Stuff.