Lecture on Visual Imagery

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15 Jan 2011
Lecture 4
Dual code theory (Paivio, 1960s)
Ps studied pairs of words (no mention of imagery): concrete-concrete / concrete-abstract / abstract-
concrete / abstract-abstract
Test: provided with one word, recall the other in the pair
Better recall for concrete words than for abstract words
Conclusion: imagery improves memory b/c concrete words can easily evoke clear images / dual code
created for concrete words, not for abstract ones
Analogical position Propositional position
Storage in picture-like code Storage in word-like code
Like perception of a pictureLike a verbal description of a picture
Necessarily spatial in natureSpatial aspect is epiphenomenal (accompanies process but
not actually part of mechanism)
Not describe any particular relationshipEssentially relational in nature
Relationships are represented implicitly
Relationships are represented explicitly (absolute true value)
Continuous transfor mation Discrete transfor mation
Analogical position evidence
1) Mental rotation: larger the rotation, longer the RT = continuous path of internal representation (not
2) Functional-equivalency hypothesis (Kosslyn): scaling effect: elephant vs. rabbit / rabbit vs. fly 
larger object, faster RT spatial nature
3) Mental scanning: longer RT for mentally scanned longer distances (similar to perception of physical
4) Neurologi cal evidence: same brain areas are involved in perception and mental rotation
5) Visual imagery and perception are like: similar neural processes
fMRI study visual processing increased activity in FFA / PPA = similar to actual perception
unilateral neglect: fail to process/respond to stimuli on one side (usually left) of space
6) criticism: task demands (give the pattern that experimenter expects)
Propositional position evidence
1) Tacit knowledge: RT effects are the result of tacit knowledge about how long it should take to move
from point to point
2) Visual imagery and perception are NOT like
Imagery is susceptible to inflexibility: rabbit or duck? easily change if physically present but
not easy to change if mental image is available only
Susceptible to distortion by hierarchical info
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