Structural Cognition: 60 Skills -- The Role of Structure in High Performer Cognition -- People Who Apply Ordinary Cognitive Operators Not to 1 or a Few Ideas at Once But to Structured Patterns of 60 to 100 Ideas with the Same Quality and Time

12 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2013

See all articles by Richard Greene

Richard Greene

Beijing DeTao Masters Academy; Keio University - Graduate School of System Design and Management

Date Written: April 1, 2004



Research Question 1 BASIS OF HIGH MENTAL PERFORMANCES: What does either talent or professional practice generate that causes high mental performance?

Research Question 2 WHAT DOES NON-LINEAR AMPLIFICATION OF INITIAL DIFFERENCES PRODUCE: When slight initial differences in ability via use produce slightly better rewards which constitutes practice of use increasing ability slightly increasing rewards slight -- what does this positive feedback of escalating investment/rewards produce that enables great mental performance?


Psychology research on abilities and competencies has diverged into two competing approaches -- the innate talent approach and the professional practice approach. Non-linear system dynamics phenomena have been used as bridges between those two, recently, for example, suggesting a rich get richer exponential growth link between slight initial differences in talent amplified by slight recognition and reward differences into larger efforts, producing larger recognition and reward, and so on (and a Simonton thesis about non-linear combinations of genes). This article adds a fourth factor -- structure -- among talent, professional practice,and non-linear amplification. Non-linear amplification, more rewards causing more practice causing more rewards, seems to work, when actual transcripts are reviewed, by layered automation of operations -- lists of mental operations in sequence, turned into hierarchies having conscious lists of categories under each of which are sequence-lists of operation practiced into unconscious operation, such hierarchies made fractal by ordering patterns copied across levels, then the fractal hierarchies regularized in branch factor and naming conventions within/across levels.


Method 1 BROAD SURVEY OF DIVERSE MENTAL HIGH PERFORMERS FOR MENTAL PROTOCOL CONTENTS: Transcripts of many diverse experts handling tough and creativity-requiring cases reviewed for common mental growth between novice and expert levels of performance on specific tasks. 177 transcripts of 77 experts in 42 different fields were reviewed for this paper to produce a categorical model of 60 domains of cognitive high performance where a particular structure (of ideas or actions) produced significantly better cognitive performance than average (both the structure, the cognitive high performance attained via it, and the disorder reduced or removed by the structure are presented in the model for each of the 60 domains). Replacing disorder with order seems to lubricate, speed up, make more comprehensive and accurate lists, hierarchies of lists, fractalized hierarchies, regularized fractal hierarchies, multiplied regularized fractalized hierarchies -- allowing more items of great diversity to be considered in relation to each other in the same amount of time and effort.


Result 1 FIVE ROLES OF STRUCTURE IN HIGH COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE: 1) lists, 2) hierarchies of categorized lists, 3) fractalized hierarchies, 4) regularized fractal hierarchies, 5) with such hierarchies multiplied to form tables and matrices -- in sequence emerge as novice-hood gives way to expert performance.

Result 2 TWO HYPOTHESES -- THE ULTIMATE STRUCTURE AND THE VOLUME-DIVERSITY DRIVE: a. the multiplied-regularized-indexed-lists form will be found in the highest performers of all major cognitive functions as key to their achievement of that performance. b. the ultimate structure -- multiplied-regularized-fractalized-indexed-lists -- emerges from professional practice because high performers achieve high cognitive performance in any cognitive function via handling more items/ideas/actions and more diversity of items/ideas/actions than average performers, “chunking” now made-by-practice unconscious contents under still conscious categories which categories are themselves later made by practice unconscious similarly.

Result 3 AMBIGUOUS ROLE OF REGULARIZATION -- regularizing a structure decreases attention it draws and holds while making it better liked because easy to process = easy access easy ignoring. The initial provisional result is a structure-performance hypothesis including trade-offs among factors and four roles of structure in attaining high cognitive performance. Ambiguities in the role of structure in cognitive high performance are discussed. One particular ambiguity, whether more topologically regular structure improves or hinders cognitive high performance, though not resolved in this research, is well framed and discussed herein. Two hypotheses result, finally,from reviewing the 60 cases of cognitive high performance herein -- the Ultimate Structure hypothesis, and the Volume and Diversity Drive hypothesis. Subsequent research should confirm or deny them, this paper suggests.

Suggested Citation

Greene, Richard, Structural Cognition: 60 Skills -- The Role of Structure in High Performer Cognition -- People Who Apply Ordinary Cognitive Operators Not to 1 or a Few Ideas at Once But to Structured Patterns of 60 to 100 Ideas with the Same Quality and Time (April 1, 2004). Available at SSRN: or

Richard Greene (Contact Author)

Beijing DeTao Masters Academy ( email )

1 Nanjin Road ShaheZhen
Changping District
Beijing, 102206


Keio University - Graduate School of System Design and Management ( email )

1-1 KyoSeiKan Building 6 floor C6N16
Hiyoshi, Honcho, Kohoku-Ku
Yokohama, Kanagawa 223-0001

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