Ask participants to memorize a picture of an object that the experimenters presented, such as a
boat, and then to create an image of that object in their mind and to focus on one part of the boat,
such as the anchor. They were then asked to look for another part of the boat, such as the motor,
and to press the “true” button when they found this part or the “false” button when they couldn’t
find it. Results showed that it took longer for P’s to find parts that are located further from the
initial point of focus. This shows that visual imagery has a spatial component.
Another experiment to show this spatial component is
the picture on the left. Results showed that P’s took
longer to respond for greater distances between the
arrow and the dot.
P’s were asked to imagine two animals, such as an elephant and a rabbit, next to each other and
to imagine that they were standing close enough to the larger
animal that it filled most of their visual field. He then posed
questions such as “Does the rabbit have whiskers?” and asked
his subjects to find that part of the animal in their mental image
and to answer as quickly as possible. When he repeated this
procedure but told subjects to imagine a rabbit and a fly next to
each other, subjects created larger images of the rabbit. The
result of these experiments, shown alongside the pictures, was
that subjects answered questions about the rabbit more rapidly
when it filled more of the visual field.
Perky asked her subjects to “project” visual images of common objects onto a screen, and then to
describe these images. Unbeknownst to the subjects, Perky was back-projecting a very dim
image of this object onto the screen. Thus, when subjects were asked to create an image of a
banana, Perky projected a dim image of a banana onto the screen. Interestingly, the subjects’
descriptions of their images matched the images that Perky was projecting. For example, they
described the banana as being oriented vertically, just as was the projected image. Even more
interesting, not one of Perky’s 24 subjects noticed that there was an actual picture on the screen.
They had apparently mistaken an actual picture for a mental image Martha Farah (1985) instructed her subjects to imagine either the
letter H or the letter T on a screen. Once they had formed a clear
image on the screen, they pressed a button that caused two
squares to flash, one after the other. One of the squares
contained a target letter, which was either an H or a T . The
subjects’ task was to indicate whether the letter was in the first
square or the second one. The results on the left indicate that the
target letter was detected more accurately when the subject had
been imagining the same letter rather than the different letter.
Farah interpreted this result as showing that perception and
imagery share mechanisms.
Looking at smal