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date: 24 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Qualitative research complements laboratory studies and close readings by revealing individual differences in the ways that human minds respond to literary texts. This study compares the introspections of 34 prominent scientists, writers, designers, and scholars, including Temple Grandin and Salman Rushdie, about the visual mental imagery they form while thinking, reading, writing. Recent findings in cognitive neuroscience do not support a binary model of visual and verbal cognitive styles. Individuals vary in their inclinations toward object visualization (focused on shape, color, and texture) and spatial visualization (focused on distance, velocity, and direction of movement), and this discovery about distinct styles of visualization has great importance for literary studies. This interview-based study of visual mental imagery both affirms and troubles the notion of spatial, object, and verbal cognitive styles by showing how greatly individual experiences of reading vary. The results promise to be of value both to literary scholars and neuroscientists.

Keywords: cognitive neuroscience, cognitive styles, individual differences, object visualization, qualitative research, reading, Salman Rushdie, spatial visualization, Temple Grandin, visual mental imagery

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