If I tell you to imagine a green bicycle, your brain will read the words “green” and “bicycle” and then your visual perceptive neurons will combine these ideas to create a green bicycle that you can “see” but one that does not exist in the world.
Your consciousness refers to the perceptive neurons that receive signals from your sensory organs to interpret and react to your surroundings. The human consciousness is able to access both sensory and memory neurons. The memory neurons allow us to hang on to information that we’re trying to mentally manipulate.
Our earlier example stimulated the neural clusters of “green” and “bicycle” and allowed you to create a new idea of a green bicycle, made from the visual information of “green” and “bicycle.” The memory neurons that temporarily hold the newly created idea is called the mental plane, though you may have heard of it called your imagination.
Your consciousness is made up of perceptive neurons that don’t always have to be connected to sensory neurons. You’ll notice that closing your eyes gives you a more vivid mental image and plugging your ears let’s you imagine sounds more clearly. By shutting out a sensory stimulus, you allow resources to be allocated to the mental plane from your blank senses.
You reallocate to the mental plane every night as you create vivid images and sounds in your mental plane while you sleep. Your consciousness is allocated to the mental plane in order to rest the sensory neurons. In a way, you are actually experiencing the dreams in the same way as life even though your body is not.
The mental plane is incredibly useful for playing out scenarios, seeing a problem from multiple angles, or predicting causality between trends. Our conscious access to the mental plane is the main reason our ancestors had a competitive advantage in nature. Let’s empathize with a recent ancestor to better understand.
This female has separated from her tribe and is in danger from predators. She sees rocks on the ground around her and, with little investigation, determines them to be very dense. She knows that the rocks are more dense than her predators. She thinks that if a predator were hit with one of the rocks, it would hurt. She decides to pick up the rock and carry it with her as a defense against anything that wishes to harm her.
Our ancestors used the idea of relative hardness of the rock and predators in order to make the decision to use the rock for another purpose: a weapon. Without our access to the mental plane, we would not be able to manipulate stored memory in order to solve problems.
Many of our cognitive brain functions utilize our mental plane. It’s important to remember that, just like with the motor center, your conscious access to the mental plane needs to be trained. The more time you spend “in your head” the easier it will be to access it again. Those that do not spend much time thinking have a harder time when they try. Fully utilize the tools at your disposal and you will see how incredible you really are.