Concept map

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Concept map is a term derived from computer science. It may also be used to represent semantic relationships within the structure of knowledge (e.g. in incremental reading or neural creativity). To visualize the thinking process, concept maps may correspond with a system of concept cells, and conceptual connections (interneuronal links).

In the process of conceptualization, concept maps undergo generalization that tends to simplify their structure. Generalization is based on selective activation of the intersection of map subcomponents in different contexts. Less relevant attributes of a concept are subject to forgetting. Such incompletely crystallized concepts are referred to in the literature as cell assemblies. The end product of the generalization process may be the emergence of grandmother cells (see: The truth about grandmother cells). For a model of the thought process based on concept maps see: How to solve any problem?

At SuperMemo Guru, I often use the term "concept map" in context where "neural network" would also fit. My choice is dictated by the effort to promote thinking about the brain as a network of concept maps subject to activation in the thinking process. When the term "neural network" is used, it leaves room for connectionist models in contexts where they do not apply.

It is also convenient to use the term concept map when referring to a meaningful sub-network of the concept network of the brain, esp. if its concepts tend to co-activate in unison. For example, the act of picking an apple in a specific orchard may activate a specific concept map that may gradually become integrated into a simpler conceptual structure. At the very end of that integrative process might be the establishment of a single grandmother cell responsible for representing a highly useful idea in the mind.

This glossary entry is used to explain texts in SuperMemo Guru series on memory, learning, creativity, and problem solving