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Visual mental imagery and visual perception: Structural equivalence revealed by scanning processes

Abstract

The research reported in the present article investigates whether information is represented the same way in both visual mental imagery and the early phases of visual perception. In Experiment 1, the same participants scanned over patterns of dots in a mental image (with images based on a just-seen pattern), during perception, and in an iconic image. The time to scan increasing distances increased at comparable rates in the three tasks. However, in Experiment 2, when mental images were created from information stored in long-term memory, participants scanned more slowly in the mental image condition. Nevertheless, the rates of scanning in the perceptual tasks were highly correlated with the rates of scanning in the imagery tasks in both experiments. The results provide evidence that mental images and perceived stimuli are represented similarly and can be processed in the same way.

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Correspondence to Gregoire Borst.

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This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, Grant 2 R01 MH060734; any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NIH.

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Borst, G., Kosslyn, S.M. Visual mental imagery and visual perception: Structural equivalence revealed by scanning processes. Memory & Cognition 36, 849–862 (2008). https://doi.org/10.3758/MC.36.4.849

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Keywords

  • Mental Image
  • Visual Imagery
  • Iconic Memory
  • Iconic Image
  • Scan Task