[Graphic] Mental Architecture v1.3

Mental Architecture v1.3

A truly enormous upgrade. New features are as follows:

  • Memory Hierarchy
  • The Cognitive Roots Of Culture
  • Grounding Construal Level Theory
  • Grounding Dual Process Theory
  • Six Pillars Of Selfhood
  • Improved Motor Specificity

It is important to remember that these posts/diagrams are not theories in their own right. Only communicated architectural solutions qualify for this. Instead, these “version” posts give me a skeleton around which I could communicate what lives in my head. They are progress indicators I leave behind as my theories become more powerful.

Memory Hierarchy

This architecture constitutes my first “memory-centric” mental architecture.

  • Episodic memory is “video film” – that is, memories of past events.
  • Semantic memory draws from episodic memory, extracting facts and abstracting information. For example, your semantic notion of FIVE generalizing past events with e.g., five objects.
  • Frame memory also draws from episodic memory, extracting relational and behavioral patterns held in common. For example, your frame notion of RESTAURANT generalizes the behavioral patterns expected of your past restaurant visits.

Episodic memory is the “parent” of frame and semantic memory. It is the most verbose, and also the most lossy. Both other formats are better preserved across an organism’s lifetime.

Open Questions: I’ve noted indexical relationships between episodic memory and the other two formats. How else do these representational formats interrelate?

Epistemic status: takes three ubiquitous memory categories, and posits a relationship between them. While some have suggested that semantic memory draws from episodic memory, and others that frame memory draws from episodic memory (Atran ), I have not yet discovered gestures at an integration of both inheritance models besides my own.

The Cognitive Roots Of Culture

What is culture? Some people would gesture towards knowledge accretion, such as the knowledge requisite in the forging of bronze weaponry.  But others would say that culture is the birthplace of institutions like economies, political parties, and religions.

Cognitive science must explain both. Here, I claim that the former is shared semantic content, and the latter is shared frame content.

Open Questions: How exactly is semantic memory distinct from frame memory?

Epistemic status: This is highly original, and also highly tentative. I’ll feel better about it once I have a clear understanding of how frame files differ from the object files of semantic memory. But it beats having no idea where culture comes from. 🙂

Grounding Construal Level Theory

Construal Level Theory (CLT) is a theory of psychological distance. It posits that the mind retains information in two representations formats: high-level and low-level construals. This dichotomy is, among many other things, used to explain hyperbolic discounting. In my architecture, I identity low-level construals with episodic memory, and high-level construals with semantic & frame memory.

Note: A lot of insight will be unlocked after I unearth the above open questions re: frame memory.

Epistemic Status: Construal Level Theory (CLT) is a rather broad & powerful theory, and enjoys a wealth of experimental evidence. This explanation for CLT is unfortunately ambiguous first draft, but does (I think) gesture at an underappreciated connection with memory science.

Grounding Dual Process Theory

Dual Process Theory (DPT) is a theory of the functional role of consciousness. It posits your brain having two modes of operation

  1. System I processes (“the Elephant”) which are unconscious and parallel/fast
  2. System II processes (“the Rider”) which are conscious and serial/slow.

In this architecture, System II processes are identified with working memory. More specifically, your waking experience is broadcast from, and entirely contained within, THIS memory system, and no other. So e.g., I wrote a long time ago that I suspect my phonological loop is a bit atypical. If the above is correct, this means my conscious experience is likewise a tiny bit separated from the norm.

Open Questions: I haven’t finished ingesting this theory, so open questions will have to wait. 🙂

Epistemic Status: This synthesis is not my own. It is almost entirely attributable to Carruthers’ work (e.g., The Centered Mind). It is an interpretation of Global Workspace Theory, which enjoys considerable support (verging on consensus).

Six Pillars Of Selfhood

The self is not a single thing. I submit that your brain accomplishes self-reference in six distinct ways.

  • The Embodied Self is your brain’s model of the body. It is known in the literature as the cortical homunculus, or “neuromatrix”.
  • The Experiencing Self is conscious perception, that is, when sense data are globally broadcast from working memory. Note connections with Kahneman.
  • The Remembering Self is conscious memories; that is, when autobiographical episodes are globally broadcast from working memory. Note connections with Kahneman.
  • The Introspection Self is the result of applying one’s mindreading capabilities on oneself. For now, I follow Carruthers’ Opacity Of Mind: introspection is not self-knowledge, but rather self-interpretation (vulnerable to confabulation).
  • The Social Self is who we are to other people. Gestured at in Granite In Every Soul, this self is responsible for the creation of self-esteem, as explored by sociometer theory.
  • The Purposive Self is the goals one has in life, and the social roles a person may inhabit. Closely connected with the Identity Construction module & self-enhancement theory.

Importantly, the format of each self is known. This is documented in the “color coding” in the above graphic.

Open Questions: The interrelationships between the “selves”.

Epistemic Status: Unlike the rest of this architecture, the six pillars is not intended as a theory. It is a taxonomy is meant as an explanatory aid, to assist the process of theorybuilding. (It will graduate to a theory after its mechanisms are unearthed.)

Improved Motor Specificity

Reintroduces the motor details already present in Mental Architecture v0.1.


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