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Imagination

by Derek Rush (Submitted: 02/09/2003)

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IMAGINATION is the second model of a series that began with SELF-AWARENESS.

IMAGINATION can surprise human beings with IDEAS or CREATIONS both unexpected and apparently from nowhere.
This model illustrates the process of imagination by relating, with some animation, the events experienced
by the author in making the procedure for a model to show trees in NetLogo.

For this activity a brain uses memories that have associations with the current subject and it finds
recently ignored or long forgotten associations; also a conscious brain does not perceive the detailed operations of all of its processes, hence an element of surprise, but more surprise comes from new and unexpected material, which can arrive when a motivating emotion is strong.
For the modelling being described the outlines of computer generated trees had already been seen in FR 3
but that computer modelling programme was not NetLogo. Most of the work required little if any imagination
and used only recent memories, some faint some strong, with expected associations; but the desire to
produce something more aesthetically pleasing became really strong after a 'sticks tree' and a 'tubes tree' were completed.

At this point imagination took over, motivated by emotion from the desire to make something more pleasing.
The modelling took several sittings, so there was time for the imagination searches to take place
unperceived and the results to be subject to at least the processing involved in associating memories. Imagination showed a memory of painting surfaces with long brush strokes and this it associated with a
turtle's pen leaving a trace; also it found a memory of making a picket fence and this it associated with
the procedure for a sticks tree. Later these recalled memories contributed to a perceived animation
similar to that reproduced in this model and from which the procedure for limbs tree was derived.

A brain may be creative by being active in rearranging the inputs it has received during life, also by communicating and thereby obtaining new inputs, (see FR 5).But what motivates this activity?.......It is emotion. Emotion is the accelerator pedal of a brain, for survival it has to be; also it must be able to override other activity decisions, hence in a brain it is the nearest thing to a homunculus (see FR 5).
A brain is part of a living thing and living things have the characteristics of a self-organising system
with feedbacks providing regulation; but this can generate oscillations or chaos, (see FR 2 & 6), thereby adding the unexpected which is good for ideas, creativity and surprising predators, (see FR 2 p.95).
Since emotion is involved in controlling actions within a brain it is possible that extreme emotion can
result in oscillation or chaos; but emotion is a big subject that deserves a separate model.

FURTHER READING

FR. 1 The Human Computer by Mark Jeffery. Little, Brown and Company, London, 1999. ISBN 0 7515 2847 1
FR. 2 The New Scientist Guide To Chaos, edited by Nina Hall, Penguin Books, 1991.
FR. 3 Fractals by Hans Lauwerier, published by Princeton University Press.
FR. 4 Mapping The Mind by Rita Carter. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1998. ISBN 0 297 62330 2
FR. 5 NetLogo Model SELF-AWARENESS
FR. 6 NetLogo Model POPEQ

The Author Derek Rush may be contacted by Email at derekrush@beeb.net. February 2003.

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