PSY270H1 Lecture 11: Imagery and Concepts

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Published on 21 Mar 2019
PSY270 Lecture 7: Imagery and Concepts
Analogue codes vs. propositions
One of the earliest debates in psychology concerns how information is
represented in our minds
Imagery is a mental representation of something that isn’t currently present
An image resembles whatever it is that it represents
Tend to assume imagery is visual but we have imagery in other
modalities too
Different than symbolic representation which is an arbitrary mental representation
of a concept
Symbolic representation is arbitrary, no similarity to its reference, unlike
imagery which is representative
Often stored as language
Ex: the word “dog”, we know what it represents, it has one
referent, but, it in no way represents that referent. The word “dog”
doesn’t look like a dog, sound like a dog, etc., while imagery
represents what a dog looks like, what petting it feels like, etc
Can be schematic
Propositional representation
Can be abstract concept knowledge
imagery/symbolic representation dichotomy is described by Paivio’s dual-code
Thoughts can be represented in 2 ways:
As words (symbolic code)
As images (analogue code)
Everything can be represented verbally but not everything can be represented as
an image
We can describe a cat, but it's easier just to picture it
We can describe freedom but it’s not so easy to picture it
The “imagery debate” began as 2 opposing theories of how images are
represented in the mind
Kosslyn proposed the functional-equivalence hypothesis which believe all
images are represented as spatial representations (analogue codes)
How these things occur in the real world corresponds to how we
represent them in our mind (the space they take up in the real
world represents the space they take up in our mind)
Everything we’d do to an object in the real world is objective to
how we’d act on them in our minds
Images themselves are stored, and we act and manipulate those
images in our minds
Thought is certainly stored as an image
Pylyshyn proposed propositional theory which believes images are
epiphenomenal of underlying propositional networks and are stored as
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Images are a byproduct of a different type of knowledge
Images are not the basic unit that we store knowledge
If we want to imagine what something looks like, we have to
access our propositional knowledge
A proposition is the smallest assertion that can be verified
Smallest unit of knowledge that we can say is true or false
Doesn’t have to be true, just has to be verifiable
Ex: holding up a cell phone and saying “this is a cell phone” or “this is a
banana” can be verified if these statements are true or false
Idea is that we store knowledge as connected series of nodes in the
network. Have a whole bunch of pieces of knowledge that are all
connected together in our minds. These pieces of knowledge are amodal
(not tied to our senses)
There is a long-standing history of research suggesting we represent memories
and general knowledge as propositions (we’ll talk about some of it in the
remaining classes)
But, we all know we can form images so we know they exist
The question is which is the most fundamental unit of mental
Images and words?
Mental Rotation
For the same shapes, as the angle of rotation increases, reaction time increases
For the different shapes, there is no effect of angle rotation and remains the
same and relatively high for all angles of rotation
Does this support functional equivalent hypothesis
Answer yes if this is the pattern of results we’d see for manipulating real
objects, and no if it does not
In real life, it takes you longer to rotate something a farther
distance, and the idea that you could tell if they were the same or
different is if you rotate it enough to see that it is the time
Act of rotation would take more time as you rotate more
Explains same shapes
For different shapes, you would always have to go through a full
rotation in order to know that they were different
Evidence for mental rotation supports functional equivalence. We tend
to rotate objects in our time as we would in real life
Image Scanning
Participants are shown a map of an island, and asked to memorize this map.
Then asked imagine you’re at the beach, mentally scan the map until you get to
the windmill vs. the lighthouse
It’s not a good comparison of walking on an island and looking at a map
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