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9. PSY270 Visual Imagery .docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Kristie Dukewich

9. PSY270 Visual Imagery 12/5/2012 11:26:00 PM Chapter plan:  History of imagery  Imagery debate (imagery related to perception vs. language more?)  Behavioural research  Physiological research  Imagery & memory Visual Imagery Overview: 1. What is imagery, what is it for? 2. Imagery in the history of psych 3. Imagery and perception: same mechanisms? 4. Imagery and brain 5. Using imagery to improve memory 6. Mental rep. of mechanical systems 1. What is imagery, what is it for?  Mental imagery is experiencing a sensory impression in the absence of sensory input. E.g. “How many windows are there in front of your house?” o Who has bushier eyebrows? “Bieber vs. Cowell” = Bieber  Visual imagery is “seeing” in the absence of a visual stimulus.  Imagery has played an important role in the creative process and as a way of thinking, in addition to purely verbal techniques. o E.g dreaming 2. Imagery in the history of psych  Studying images was a way of studying thinking.  Early ideas about imagery included the imageless-thought debate (are images essential to thinking? Yes/no)  Imagery debate: Imagery is based on…? o Perceptual, spatial mechanisms = images (Aristotle) o Propositional, linguistic mechanisms = imageless  Galton‟s work with visual images (blind people are still capable of thought), but imagery research stopped during the behaviorist era. o Watson = images are subjective to the person experiencing them, so they are „unproven‟ and not worthy of study (1920s- 1950s)  Imagery research began again in the 1960‟s, with the advent of the cog revolution. o Measuring behaviour that linked to cognition o E.g. Paivio, paired-associate learning– Easier to remember concrete nouns (truck) than abstract nouns (justice) o DUAL CODING THEORY (Paivio) – Words that represent concrete objects are represented twice in memory. (they are verbal + imaginal) = more recall  Conceptual-peg hypothesis: Concrete nouns create images that other words can “hang onto”  E.g. “Boat-hat” = You will think of a boat, and a hat somewhere on it. The hat is pegged to the boat concrete noun via mental imagery o Mental chronometry: the determination of the time needed to carry out various cognitive tasks (RT to stimulus + task)  E.g. Mental rotation task + response  = suggested that imagery and perception share same mechanisms  Chronometric (time measuring) exploration of imagery 3. Imagery and perception: same mechanisms? Mental Scanning + time to imagine spatial relations (near/far) = visual imagery exists!  Imagery debate: Imagery is based on…? o Perceptual, spatial mechanisms = images (Aristotle, Kosslyn)  The idea that imagery shares the same mechanisms as perception (creates a depictive representation in the persons mind) was suggested by Kosslyn‟s mental scanning experiments o Where participants created mental images and then scan them in their minds o Task: Look at the anchor, is there a motor? Press button for T/F o “If imagery, like perception, is spatial, then it should take longer for participants to find parts that are located father from the initial point of focus because they would be scanning across the image of the object” o Boat cabin too distracting affecting RT? nd o 2 task = Island map mental scanning  Relationship between reaction time and distance they had to imagine to get from AB on the map  It took longer to scan between greater distances  Supporting that visual imagery is spatial in nature  Imagery debate: Imagery is based on…? o Propositional, linguistic mechanisms = imageless (Pylyshyn)  Kosslyn‟s results and others were challenged by Pylyshyn, who stated that imagery is based on a mechanism related to language (that is, it creates a propositional representation in a persons mind) o Just because we experience imagery as spatial, it doesn‟t mean that the underlying representation is spatial o The spatial experience of mental images is an epiphenomenon – something that accompanies the real mechanism but is not actually part of the mechanism.  Like computer lights flashing when its calculating something. An indicator but doesn‟t explain the calculations.  He argued for propositional representation – where relationships are represented by symbols, like when a word represents an object. o UNDER (CAT/TABLE)  Depictive representations – picture to show spatial relationships. Words are used instead of image of boat to represent it propositionally o Propeller (bottom of), Motor (rear of) etc o Word = boat part, (word in brackets) = spatial relationship between parts, nodes  like semantic networks  He gave a propositional rep. of Kosslyn‟s boat AND said one reason for why the scanning time increases with distance between two points on an image. o He though it was due to top-down processing, participants on Koslynn‟s tasks using knowledge of the object + expectations o PYLYSHYN SAID THAT “PEOPLE KNOW THAT IN THE REAL WORLD IT TAKES LONGER TO TRAVEL LONGER DISTANCES, SO THEY SIMULATE THIS RESULT IN KOSSLYN‟S EXPERIMENT” = The tacit-knowledge explanation  Tacit = inferred  It states that the participants unconsciously use knowledge about the world in making their judgments  One of Pylyshyn‟s arguments against the idea of a depictive representation is the tacit-knowledge explanation o which states that when asked to imagine something, people ask themselves what would it be like to see it?, and then they simulate this staged event.  Imagery debate: Imagery is based on…? o Perceptual, spatial mechanisms = images (Aristotle, Kosslyn, Pinker)  Finke and Pinker‟s “flashed dot and arrows” experiment argued against the tacit knowledge explanation. o Were the arrows pointing to any of the dots just seen?  No imagery or scanning outward from arrow, no memory, but still took longer to respond for greater distances between arrow and dot.  The following experiments also demonstrated parallels between imagery and perception + spatial mechanisms: o 1. Size in the visual field  Viewing distance and details  also in mental images?  Task: Imagine rabbit & elephant next to eachother. Does a rabbit have whiskers?  Slower RT when next to elephant, as rabbit took up less of the visual field.  Faster RT when rabbit was compared to a fly  Faster RT when animal filled more of the visual field  Visual-walk task  imagine walking towards mental image of animal, how far away were you when you began to experience “overflow” (when the image filled the visual field/fuzzy edges)  Participants had to move closer for smaller
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