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  • Name John Johnson
  • Location: Atlanta
  • Occupation: PhD Student
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  • Homepage URL: johnjohnson.info
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Using the brain to represent knowledge gleaned from academic papers
Don,

Thanks for reminding me about Cmap. I've successfully used it in the past, and I think I was hoping TheBrain would be a kind of 3D version of that. I think for my purposes, Cmap is probably the way to go. Perhaps I can find a use for TheBrain , but at the moment, $200+ with student discount (and on a grad student stipend) is too rich for what it can do for me.

The Cmap documentation that you linked to is excellent!

Thanks also for the recommendation of DEVONthink. I'm still trying to wrap my head around its paradigm, if that paradigm is useful to me now, etc. It could include the functionality that I wish EndNote has, so I'll give it some consideration. I can foresee EndNote with 150+ references as being a burden when it comes time to write my dissertation. Then again, it will at least export a BibTeX file. I'll have to see how well DEVONthink plays with LaTeX.

On the upside, OmniFocus is keeping track of all my verbs pretty well. Just need to get a handle on these nouns.

Finally, as andreas alluded to, nothing beats pen and paper. Need a dashed line? A pen does that. Want a wavy line? A pen does that. Vertical text in the margin? Pen. Big ellipse? Pen. Love my Waterman rollerball and Clairefontaine/Rhodia paper.

Thanks again to all who have replied.
Still open to suggestions!

Regards,
John


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Using the brain to represent knowledge gleaned from academic papers
Thanks for the helpful comments everyone!

I'm sure this will get easier as I progress through my PhD studies.

I appreciate any more comments related to distilling information like this.

Thanks,
John

Using the brain to represent knowledge gleaned from academic papers
This kind of falls between Help and Use (help on use, I suppose), so I'm posting here.

So I was reading a cognitive neuroscience paper the other day, and looking for something to help me learn the material. I happened to run across The Brain in my applications folder and gave it a try. What I wound up with was a huge, horizontal mess.

With something like James Burke's Connections, there seems to be a natural hierarchy of information. Someone came before someone else, or was influenced by them, etc. Whereas, for instance, when I'm mapping out the ventral stream (that processes the "what" information for what we see), I wind up with a lot of Jumps. The ventral stream is associated with these concepts, but most of them do not fall into a nice hierarchy. The pic attached shows what it looks like. The scroll bar on the left isn't visible in the pic, but there are more jumps than shown in the pic.

It seems that perhaps The Brain is more suited to help one remember the members of, say, a sales team and who is supposed to perform what function, than to help one learn information. I really wanted a tool to help me make connections between topics, but even after reading and transcribing one paper, it seems to be an unnavigable wilderness.

Am I just using the tool incorrectly?

Is there a way The Brain can help me process and retain this information, or is it merely a repository for information?

Thanks,
John



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