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I know very little about neuroscience and psychology, but I am curious about how our understanding of thought fits into our picture of the brain.

Thoughts, as I understand them, are a kind of internal speculation; they often come in the form of an internal voice or perhaps as mental images. I can, for example, think in verbal language (which contains propositions and such), or I can imagine a picture of mountains—this, of course, being all in my own mind.

Could it make sense to say, then, that thoughts serve as a kind of internal sensory data? My theory is that perhaps the brain projects processing as a kind of internal sense (thoughts), from which it can extract new data and continue processing—this being more efficient than information processing without a kind of feedback loop.

Is this ever articulated as a theory of thought? Otherwise, what is the neural/psychological basis for how thoughts arise and are used by the brain?

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  • $\begingroup$ You might read about the theory of "predictive coding". $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Jun 3 '20 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause From my understanding, predictive coding is related to basic sensory perceptions and mental models of environment. Is it ever applied to thinking that has little to do with an immediate environment and more to do with abstract concepts and reasoning? $\endgroup$ – natojato Jun 3 '20 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ The predictive coding evangelists apply it as a general model of brain function, though it is understandably difficult to test a lot of the predictions made for any such theory. Sensory systems are best studied and understood so that's where a lot of the theories get put to the test. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Jun 3 '20 at 15:15

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