Chapter 10 visual imagery
Mental ability: ability to recreate the sensory world in the absence of physical stimuli, also
occurs in senses other than vision
Images accompany thought, studying images was a way of studying thinking.
Imageless thought debate: link between imagery and thinking. Thought is impossible
without an image. Thinking can occur without images.
Behaviourists: branded the study of imagery as unproductive because visual images are
invisible to everyone except the person experiencing them
Watson: described images as unproven and mythological, therefore not worth study.
Dominance of behaviourism pushed the study of imagery out of mainstream psychology.
Study of cognition reborn in the 1950s
Alan Paivio’s: paired-associate learning: easier to remember concrete nouns like truck or
tree that can be imagined than it is to remember abstract nouns that are difficult to image.
Paired-associate learning: participants are presented with pairs of words. Task is ot recall the
word that was paired with it during the study period.
Conceptual peg hypothesis: concrete nouns create images that other words can hang onto.
Paivio inferred cognitive processes by using mental chronometry, determining the amount of
time needed to carry out various cognitive tasks.
Shepard and Metzler: task was to indicate as rapidly as possible whether the two pictures
were of the same object or of different objects. Showed that the time it took to decide that two
views were of the same object was directly related to how different angles were between the
two views. Participants were mentally rotating one of the views to see whether it matched
the other one. Suggests that imagery and perception may share the same mechanisms
Mental scanning: spatial correspondence between imagery and perception. Spatial
experience for both imagery and perception matches the layout of the actual stimulus.
Participants create mental images and then scan them in their minds
Stephen Kosslyn: proposed theories of imagery based on parallels between imagery and
Asked participants to memorize a picture of an object, then to create an image of that object
in their mind and to focus on one part of the object.
Imagery debate: debate whether imagery is based on spatial mechanisms such as those
involved in perception, or based on mechanisms related to language – Propositional
Spatial mechanisms: presentation in which different parts of an image can be described as
corresponding to specific locations in space
Pylyshyn: disagreed. Saying just because we experience imagery as spatial doesn’t mean that
the underlying representation is spatial. Spatial experience of mental images is an
Epiphonomenon: something that accompanies the real mechanism but is not actually part of
They indicate something is happening in the mind but don’t tell us how it is happening
Propositional representation: relationships can be represented by abstract symbols.
Involves a spatial layout.
Depictive representations: representations that are like realistic pictures that resemble an
object, so that part of the representation correspond to parts of the object
Scanning time increases as the distance between two points on an image increases is that
participants are responding based on what they know about what usually happens when they
are looking at a real scene. Chapter 10 visual imagery
Tacit knowledge explanation: states that participants unconsciously use knowledge abut
the world in making their judgments.
E: Ronald Finke and Stephen Pinker: four dot display. Participants asked to indicate
whether the arrow was pointing to any of the dots they had previously seen. Participants
were not told to use imagery or to scan outward from the arrow, they took longer to respond
for greater distances between the arrow and the dot. Results: participants wouldn’t have had
enough time to memorize the distances between the arrow and the dot before making their
judgments, it is unlikely that they used tacit knowledge about how long it should take to get
from on point to another
Whether relationship between viewing distance and the ability to perceive dtails also occur
for mental images
Kosslyn: asked participants to imagine animals next to each other, and told them to imagine
that they were standing close enough to the larger animal so that it filled most of their visual
field. Respond to details in visual images. He also asked them to do a Mental walk task: in
which they were to imagine that they were walking toward their mental image of an animal.
Task was to estimate how far away they were from the animal when they began to experience
‘overflow’- when images filled the visual field or when edges become fuzzy.
Results: participants had to move closer for small animals than for larger animals, images are
spatial, just like perception
Interaction between perception and imagery: Perky: asked participants to project visual
images of common object onto a screen, then to describe these images. U