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date: 09 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The experience of “mental pictures” viewed by the “mind’s eye” is familiar for almost all of us, but what are these “mental pictures”? This chapter reviews evidence documenting the resemblance between mental pictures and actual visual stimuli – in their information content, the processes needed to inspect them, and in the neural circuitry that supports these processes. However, the chapter also examines points of contrast between mental pictures and ordinary pictures, arguing that mental pictures are indeed depictions (just as actual pictures are) but are organized in ways that actual pictures are not. In addition, several lines of evidence demand an often-neglected distinction between visual images and spatial images. This distinction is supported by neuroimaging and neuropsychology data, behavioral data, and studies of imagery abilities in people born blind. The same distinction may help untangle discussions of the conscious experience of imagery, and, in particular, discussions of “image vividness,” a quality of visual, not spatial, imagery.

Keywords: blind, depiction, mind’s eye, spatial imagery, visualization, visual imagery, vividness

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