Imagery and Thinking: Covert Functioning of the Motor System

  • F. J. McGuigan


In numerous studies, it has been found that a variety of bodily systems are covertly activated during cognition. Excellent accounts of brain functioning during thought may be found in Delafresnaye (1954), Eccles (1966), and more recently Young (1970). An instance of a strong centralist position is that of Lashley (1958), in which it is held that thought occurs exclusively within the cerebrum (the “Donovan’s brain theory” cf. McGuigan, 1973b). The eye also has ranked high in importance among bodily systems that have been empirically implicated in the silent performance of cognitive tasks. Hebb (1968), for instance, in analyzing perception and imagery, held that peripheral activity, especially eye movement, is essential during the formation of images. A general treatment of visual system functioning during cognition may be found in Chase (1973). Visceral activity has been empirically and theoretically implicated in cognitive processes in a variety of ways; we should especially mention work on the esophagus (e. g., Jacobson, 1929), on intestinal activity (e. g., Davis, Garafolow and Gault, 1957), on electrodermal responding (e. g., Grings, 1973), and on the autonomic system in general (e. g., Lacey and Lacey, 1974). Finally, we may note that the skeletal musculature has, since the time of the ancient Greeks, been held to perform critical functions during thought (cf. Langfeld, 1933, and Smith, 1969).


Deaf Subject Forearm Flexor Dream Recall Referent Code Covert Response 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. J. McGuigan
    • 1
  1. 1.Performance Research LaboratoryUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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