"Every perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination."
-- Gerald Edelman, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
5 How important is long-term memory, anyway？7 How important is long-term memory, anyway？How important is long-term memory, anyway？Part II: Personal Memory Systems More BroadlyAugmenting Long-term Memory2020-09-24Journal
Many people's model of accomplished mathematicians is that they are astoundingly bright, with very high IQs, and the ability to deal with very complex ideas in their mind. A common perception is that their smartness gives them the ability to deal with very complex ideas. Basically, they have a higher horsepower engine.
It's true that top mathematicians are usually very bright. But here's a different explanation of what's going on. It's that, per Simon, many top mathematicians have, through hard work, internalized many more complex mathematical chunks than ordinary humans. And what this means is that mathematical situations which seem very complex to the rest of us seem very simple to them. So it's not that they have a higher horsepower mind, in the sense of being able to deal with more complexity. Rather, their prior learning has given them better chunking abilities, and so situations most people would see as complex they see as simple, and they find it much easier to reason about.