From a Continuous Stream of Incomprehensible Noise to Recognizable Words and Patterns

“When you are in a foreign country and do not yet know the language, it just seems to be a continuous stream of incomprehensible noise.  As you get to know the language it starts to break up into recognizable sounds, and then into recognizable words and phrases.  Now you cannot, no matter how hard you try, go back to hearing it as a continuous sound.  It will always to divided into separate words.  This is the way the memory-surface deals with the incomprehensible picture that is presented  to it by its surroundings.  As soon as some patterns start to be recognized they form the focus for an attention  area.  The continuous picture is now broken up into these attention areas which become more and more definite.  This is the pattern extracting process which is a natural property of the memory-surface.”

— The Mechanism of Mind by Edward de Bono

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