Rather than passively 'waiting' to be activated by sensations, it is proposed that the human brain is continuously busy generating predictions that approximate the relevant future. Building on previous work, this proposal posits that rudimentary information is extracted rapidly from the input to derive analogies linking that input with representations in memory. The linked stored representations then activate the associations that are relevant in the specific context, which provides focused predictions. These predictions facilitate perception and cognition by pre-sensitizing relevant representations. Predictions regarding complex information, such as those required in social interactions, integrate multiple analogies. This cognitive neuroscience framework can help explain a variety of phenomena, ranging from recognition to first impressions, and from the brain's 'default mode' to a host of mental disorders.