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In design thinking, understanding how mental representations work can be particularly useful to create products, experiences and communications that are more likely to be successful.

| Cognitive Science

Mental representations are a key concept in cognitive neuroscience, as they help us to make sense of the complex and ever-changing world around us.

How we represent and translate mental objects is a key concept in cognitive neuroscience, as they help us to make sense of the complex and ever-changing world around us.

At their core, mental representations involve forming internal representations of external objects or concepts in our minds. There are a number of different ways in which mental representations can be formed.

One of the most common is through Personal Constructs Theory, which suggests that we form Mental Representations by grouping together information that is personally meaningful to us.

Another approach is through the use of mental models, which are simplified representations of reality that help us to understand and predict the behavior of complex systems.

Taking into account the way that people form mental representations, designers can create mental objects that are more likely to resonate with their intended audience, since every visual o sensory cue helps us make sense of the world we experience, and the personal and intimate ways we interact with it.

Researchers believe that different types of representations are used in different regions of the brain, with some areas specialized for visual or auditory input and others for more abstract concepts. Despite these differences, all mental representations share certain characteristics, such as being dynamic and flexible.

While there is still much to be learned about mental representations and how they are used in design thinking, it is clear that this concept has the potential to significantly impact our understanding of human cognition.

For now, cognitive neuroscience provides valuable insights into mental representations and how they are used in the brain, design thinking offers a unique perspective on their role in creativity and innovation.
By understanding how mental representations are used in both fields, we can better understand the potential for using them to solve real-world problems, and more importantly, we can work towards creating more effective and meaningful designs for the world around us.

Do you have any experience with mental representations in cognitive neuroscience? How do you think they can be used in design thinking? Let us know in the comments below!

What does fuel your positive actions?
  • Understanding Visual Cues in Visualizations

    Ha-Kyung Kong University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, et al. “Understanding Visual Cues in Visualizations Accompanied by Audio Narrations: Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.” ACM Conferences, 1 May 2019,

  • Which visual cues work best to drive attention?

    Labay, B. B., & Ben Labay Ben is the Managing Director at Speero. He has a background as a research scientist specializing in statistics and data science. Ben combines years of academic and statistics training with customer experience and UX knowledge to h. (2018, July 6). Which visual cues work best to drive attention? [original research]. CXL.

desk – MAMMOTH




About the author

Antonio Caballero

Psychology Analyst, Design enthusiast, Mind explorer & Spatial Researcher.

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