Mental Imagery - Theories and Experiments.
In no particular order. A listing here does not
necessarily imply any endorsement of the views expressed at the destination
Once upon a time this page provided a fairly comprehensive listing
of the imagery material that was freely available on the web. However, with the
speed at which the web har grown and change, it has not really been possible
to keep up. Some of the sites listed here are listed because they were around
when this page was first made, some because I think they are particularly interesting,
and some by the sheer chance of my happening to find them at an opportune moment.
They vary very widely in quality, and almost certainly there are now many excellent
sites that I either do not know about or have not found the time to include. If
you find dead links, I apologize, but I cannot keep up. I am only one guy.
- from the "great" 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
version of Encyclopedia Britannica now requires a subscription to access
articles, but the 1911
Encyclopedia Britannica, acknowledged by the cognoscenti as the best ever
Britannica (even, perhaps, the best ever encyclopedia!) is now available
free online. Unfortunately the content pages have been created from scans,
which gives rise to some errors and formatting problems, and navigation can
be awkward, because articles frequently begin part way down a (web) page
and may cut off before the end without a forward link to the next page, where
the article continues.
- A Computer Model of Creativity Based on Perceptual Activity Theory. 2007
doctoral dissertation of Peter J. Blain of Griffith University, Queensland,
Australia. Demonstrates the computational viability of the Perceptual Activity Theory of
imagery, and throws much light on the theory as well as demonstrating its relevance
to understanding imaginative creativity.
- Student pages from Elizabeth Johnston's "Investigating Minds" course at
Sarah Lawrence College.
- Excerpts from Movement and Mental Imagery: Outlines of a Motor
Theory of the Complexer Mental Processes, by Margaret
Floy Washburn. Boston: Houghton Mifflin (1916). Washburn's motor theory
of imagery, presented here, is an important forerunner of the
activity or enactive theory.
Several large HTML extracts (which may be more convenient to use than
the Google Books version
linked to above) are also available online:
- John E. Boodin. "Sensation, Imagination and Consciousness," Psychological
Review, 28 (1921): 425-452. This is a somewhat
similar theory to Washburn's, and can also be considered a forerunner
of the modern perceptual
activity or enactive theory.
- James Rowland Angell: "Imagination",
Chapter 8 (pp. 161–183) from his Psychology: An Introductory
Study of the Structure and Function of Human Consciousness (3rd
York: Henry Holt and Company, (1906): 161-183. To all intents and purposes,
"imagination" as used here means the faculty of mental imagery.
Angell, who was professor of philosophy at Chicago (and J.B. Watson's doctoral
supervisor), provides a useful insight into scientifically informed beliefs
about imagery from the pre-Behaviorist era of "introspective" psychology.
- From 1904: A controversy (in a series of short articles) from the
age of introspectionist psychology about the existence of "organic
images" (i.e. imagery of bodily sensations, touch, taste, smell, and
the kinaesthetic sense ).
Relationship Between Visual Perception and Visual Mental Imagery: A Reappraisal
of the Neuropsychological Evidence." From the journal Cortex (vol.
38 pp. 357-378), a 2002 review article by neuroscientist
Paolo Bartolomeo. Argues that the Perceptual Activity theory of
imagery best fits the full range of neurological evidence. [Alternative source] [PDF
- Images and Thinking: Critique of Arguments Against Images as a Medium of
Thought, by David Cole, Professor of Philosophy, University of Minnesota,
Duluth. An apparently unpublished, but useful and systematic
rebuttal of arguments (mostly as taken from Pinker and Fodor) against teh
image theory of thought.
- Paolo Bartolomeo's publications. Bartolomeo
is an Italian neurologist based in France, and has a particular interest
in the ways that mental imagery can be impacted by various forms of brain
damage. He has worked extensively on the phenomenon of "representational
certain brain damaged patients fail to notice features to the left side
of their mental images (as well as the related perceptual deficit known
as unilateral neglect or hemineglect, wherein some patients
fail to notice things in the space to their left). Bartolomeo's home page is here.
- Brandt, S.A. & Stark, L.W. (1997). Spontaneous Eye Movements During
Visual Imagery Reflect the Content of the Visual Scene. Journal
of Cognitive Neuroscience (9) 27-38.
Scanpaths During Visual Imagery Reenact Those of Perception of the Same Visual
Scene." By Bruno Laeng & Dinu-Stefan Teodorescu.
Published in the journal Cognitive Science. A direct demonstration
of the involvement of exploratory perceptual activity in imagery.
Picture theory of Reason." Hungarian philosopher J.C.
Nyíri defends imagery theories of thought and meaning in the light
of their history and their 20th century eclipse at the hands of Wittgenstein
and his successors. (Slow to load, especially the graphics, but worth
resolved fMRI of Mental Rotation." Published article
by Richter et al. (1997) showing involvement of brain motor
(as opposed to visual) areas in mental rotation tasks.
Area Activation During Mental Rotation Studied by Time-Resolved Single Trial
fMRI." Another published article by Richter et
al. (2000) showing brain motor area involvement in mental rotation tasks.
Well Do We Know Our Own Conscious Experience? The Case of Visual Imagery."
Published article by Eric Schwitzgebel, arguing that we do
not have a very clear knowledge of our own conscious imagery experience.
of the writings of Akhter Ahsen, Ph.D. Ahsen is a clinical
psychologist who has been a leading figure in the "imagery movement", both
through his practice and writings, and because he was instrumental in
founding the International Imagery Association and
the Journal of Mental Imagery.
of Mental Imagery. Francis Galton's classic 1880 paper
that inaugurated the study of individual differences in imagery vividness;
said to be the first ever psychological questionnaire. Precursor of
Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ). David
Marks' VVIQ, made available here, is probably the best studied measure of
individual differences in the subjective experience of imagery.
Imagery Questionnaire: An Investigation of its Validity: Chara,
Paul J., Jr. and Verplanck, W.S. (1986), Perceptual
and Motor Skills, 63, 915-920.
study critical of the validity of the VVIQ.
Symbol Systems." A 1999 Behavioral
and Brain Sciences target article by distinguished cognitive psychologist
Lawrence Barsalou. Argues that mental representation in general (whether
or not experienced as conscious imagery) is perceptual in character.
memory - eidetic hoax. A discussion (initiated
by me) about the validity of a famous experiment on eidetic imagery.
"Elizabeth", who could supposedly fuse a random dot stereogram via
eidetic imagery, and thus see the resultant 3-D figure, was probably a hoaxer.
From the message board of the Cecil Adams'
The Straight Dope
- No One has a Photographic Memory, .
More about the incredible eidetic imagery powers claimed by "Elizabeth" (from
the online magazine Slate -
April 27, 2006) .
Imagery Debate. A brief entry, by C.P. Watling, from The
University of Alberta's Cognitive
Science Dictionary. As usual, the "imagry debate" refered to
here, is the so-called analog-propositional debate that originated, and was
at its most heated, during the 1970s. Of course, there are many other things
about imagery that can be and have been debated. For my very different take
on the analog-propositional debate, and for my assessment of its significance
for us today, click here.
- The Problem of Mental Images. From "More
than Meets the Eye: Aristotle on Sense Perception," by Thomas A. Fowler (student
paper from Tufts University).
Association for the Study of Mental Imagery. Focused mainly
on clinical applications and personality issues. Publishes the journal Imagination,
Cognition, and Personality.
Imagery Association. Association. Publishes the Journal
of Mental Imagery.
Can Enhance Visual Perception. News report of an experiment.
Imagery. Lecture handout from Brazil (in English).
Imagery. Cognitive Psychology crib notes.
- "Motor processes in mental rotation." By Mark
Wexler, Stephen M. Kosslyn & Alain Berthoz (from the CogPrints archive).
[Published in 1998 in Cognition (68) 77-94.]
- Psych/Lab for Windows XP.
Free download, including Mental
Rotation Experiment Software. Provided by Richard
Abrams of Washington University, St. Louis.
New Spin on Mental Rotation." An attempt at a computer simulation
of the phenomenon, by Peter Yule.
and Self-Awareness: A Theoretical Note. By Alain Morin, Ph.D.
From the (apparently now defunct) ejournal Theory
and Review in Psychology.
- The Laboratory
of the leading imagery researcher Stephen Kosslyn. This
updated site now makes many of his past publications available.
Pylyshyn's Home page. Pylyshyn has, since 1973, been
the leading critic of "pictorial" theories of imagery (such as Kosslyn's),
and important new material is now to be found here, including, but
not limited to:
Imagery: In Search of a Theory. (also PDF version with commentaries and reply ) Pylyshyn
2002 critique of the picture theory of imagery. Published in Behavioral
and Brain Sciences (2002 - vol.25) 157-237.
My published commentary on on this is The False
Dichotomy of Imagery.
the Elusive Mental Image Screen. Pylyshyn's reply
to the commentators on the above article. Well worth reading even
if you have not read the commentaries themselves. From Behavioral
and Brain Sciences (2002 - vol. 25) 216-237.
- Is the imagery debate over? If so, what was it about? (also PDF version). From: Language,
brain, and cognitive development: Essays in honor of Jacques Mehler,
E. Dupoux (Ed). Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2001.
of the Mental Image: Are There Really Pictures in the Head?
Essentially a more concise restatement or abstract of the
argument of the two articles above. Published in Trends in Cognitive
Sciences (2003 - vol. 7) 113-118. [PDF
- Seeing and Visualizing : It's Not What You Think. Draft
version of Pylyshyn's book of this title, that was published by MIT Press
in 2003. [PDF
[Also the most relevant chapters (6, 7, & 8) as HTML.]
- Mental Imagery. Entry
written by Pylyshyn for The
Oxford Companion to the Mind (2nd ed., edited by R.L. Gregory,
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). A succinct restatement of Pylyshyn's
main objections to pictorialism. [PDF
- (With D. Dulin, Y. Hatwell,
and S. Chokron). Effects
of Peripheral and Central Visual Impairment on Mental Imagery Capacity. Neuroscience
and Biobehavioral Reviews, 32 #8,
- The role of Visual
Indexes in Spatial Vision and Imagery. In R. Wright, Visual
York: Oxford University Press,
1998. [PDF File]
Representing Brain: Neural Correlates of Motor Intention and Imagery", by
Marc Jeannerod. This article was published in the prestigious
and Brain Sciences. Jeannerod is a distinguished French neuroscientist.
After Postmodernism," by Ralph Ellis. This is not so much
about postmodernism as about a view of consciousness that gives a central
place to imagery and perceptual activity. See also my
review of Ellis' book Questioning Consciousness.
Images", by Clive Leddy. Seems to be an essay (from 1997) by
a Cognitive Science (graduate?) student in Sweden.
'Dual Coding' (i.e. imaginal and verbal) theory of memory. From
Greg Kearsley's TIP
(Theory Into Practice) database: "a tool intended to make learning and
instructional theory more accessible to educators". This consists mainly of
succinct introductory essays and brief bibliographies on theories, concepts,
and (pedagogical) applications of behaviorist and cognitive psychology.
- Philosophical writings
on mental imagery (and other topics) by Tony Birch.
- Connecting Visual and Verbal Space: An Interdisciplinary Study
on the Foundation and Use of Mental Images in a Listener Model. Doctoral
thesis by German Artificial Intelligence researcher Jörg R.J. Schirra.
Depictive Nature of Visual Mental Imagery." A paper by Taiwanese
Philosopher Norman Y. Teng. (Presented at the Twentieth
World Congress of Philosophy, August 10-16, 1998, Boston, Massachusetts,
U.S.A.) Essentially a critique of Tye's view of imagery.
L. Flake's Mental Imagery Links Page. A very old links page.
Mental Imagery for the Blind, by Peter Meijer. Meijer is
a Dutch engineer who has invented a device, the
vOICe, that encodes a visual scene as sound, and that he hopes will be
useful to blind people. His impressive site (lots of sound, Java etc.) includes
online demonstrations of his technology, as well as this page on imagery.
Bibliography of 'Visual mental imagery (the "mind's eye"), especially as it
applies to inference.' Compiled in 1994. From Paul Thagard's
- Papers on Imagination,
on Mental Imagery,
and on Philosophy
of Cognitive Science,
There appears to be a lot of overlap and cross-linking between
these categories. Philpapers.org has,
in effect, subsumed and taken over from Dave Chalmers' bibliography of consciousness
and philosophy of mind, which used to be at consc.net.
the Ghost of Mental Imagery," by Stevan Harnad, professor
of Psychology, University of Southampton, U.K., and founding editor of Behavioral
and Brain Sciences.
on Recognition and Spatial Processing in Perception and Imagery by Dr. Itiel
E. Dror of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Department
of Psychology, University of Southampton, U.K.
as the Behaviorist Views it," by John B. Watson. The classic
1913 paper instigating Behaviorist psychology, and denying the existence
of imagery. (See especially footnote 7, but also see this.)
- Program and Protocol Analysis on a Mental Imagery Task [pdf], by George W.
Baylor. From the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence,
first real attempt at a computational model of imagery, and, in large part,
the inspiration for Pylyshyn's description theory.
- Can we Download Mental Imagery? by
John C. Atkeson. No, actually, although we might have been able to if our brains
had been designed by Descartes.
- What Shape Are a German Shepherd's Ears? Informative
interview with leading imagery researcher Stephen Kosslyn.
- Eidetic Imagery: Raising More Questions than Answers,
by Anna Arnaudo. Undergraduate essay from Bryn Mawr College: poorly sourced
and perpetuates some serious misconceptions.
- Mental Imagery,
An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey (© 2007). An
online introductory psychology textbook.
- Mental Rotation,
by Roger Shepard & Lynn A. Cooper (from Scholarpedia).
Shepard discoverd the phenomenon of mental rotation, and Cooper, who was
his student, has been probably the most important investigator of the phenomenon,
next to him.
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Imagination, Mental Imagery, Consciousness, Cognition:
Science, Philosophy & History.