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Psychology 2135A/B Lecture Notes - Mental Rotation, Tacit Knowledge, Steven Pinker

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Robert Brown

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Lecture 10 - Imagery
- are mental images different from propositional/verbal information as representations of the
Evidence that we form and use mental images
- problem is that some people argue forming images is like seeing; process that is very different
from verbal processing; difference is like difference between analog and digital
- analog has how much day is left encoded; digital does not
- in image, always possible to see what we have not seen before; in verbal description,
can only get what is written/spoken, nothing else
- some people argue that it is all digital since it involves neurons and there are no actual pictures
in brain; like a computer
Brooks (1968) - 2 tasks
- task 1: categorize each word as a noun or a non-noun in a sentence
- task 2: look at a block letter and then, from memory, categorize each corner as a point on a) the
extreme top or bottom or b) a point in between
- 3 response methods:
- a) say yes and no
- b) tap with the left hand for each noun, and right hand for each non-noun
- c) point to a Y for each noun and an N for each non-noun
- Ys and Ns are staggered; makes visuo-spatial task harder
- see if there is a different verbal and visual system
- showed that when processing and response were both verbal or both visual, took longer
response times; when processing and response were different, took less time
Shepard and Metzler (1971)
- studies using a mental rotation task
- whether relationship between visual form of the mental image and reaction time is similar to
what happens with actual visual stimulus
- IV for same trials is number of degrees of rotation; DV is time to decide whether two stimuli
are the same
- as angle goes up, mean reaction time goes up
- we rotate through all the degrees; just like physically rotating object
Cooper and Shepard (1973)
- used letters rotated by different amounts
- task to determine if figure was mirror reversed
- 180 degrees is the most difficult; further away from right-side-up means longer times
Kosslyn (1973); Kosslyn et at. (1978)
- imagery produced by many of same resources used for vision; so similar properties
- one property of a visual percept is that it is limited in size; maximal size for visual image
- moving closer causes object to fill more of the field and details are easier to see
- had people imagine a rabbit next to an elephant; asked questions about features about rabbit
like whiskers; people took a long time
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