According to cognitive theory, schemata are the networks of knowledge that are stored in the brain. These schemata connect various related details to main concepts or "big ideas" within specific domains of knowledge, such as physics. They allow for the incorporation of new knowledge by connecting it to prior knowledge by way of either assimilation (new knowledge is added to to already existing networks of information) or accommodation (existing networks of information change in structure or content to incorporate the new knowledge).

Bransford, J. et al. (2000). How people learn; Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.