Imageless Thought Theory




IMAGERY/MENTAL IMAGERY, THEORIES OF. In the context of cognitive experiences, the term image refers to a mental representation of an earlier sensory stimulus or experience and represents a less vivid copy of that event [cf., imagery law of compensation/rivalry - proposed by the English psychologist Charles W. Valentine (1879-1964), states that in the aesthetic appreciation of poetry, visual imagery displaces, or is displaced by, auditory imagery, or by emphasized attention to rhythm, sound, or meaning]. When image is used to mean a "picture in one's head," it is assumed that this representation is not a literal one but merely acts "as if" one had a mental picture that is an analog of a real-world scene. Also, the image in this sense is assumed to be a "construction" or a "synthesis" of an earlier event and not merely a copy of some previously experienced sensory (visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, or olfactory) stimulus [cf., the discredited reproduction theory of imagery proposed by the German psychologist Oswald Kulpe (1862-1918), which holds that an image is a copy or point-by-point reproduction of the original stimulus; the functional equivalence hypothesis which is a general proposition that imagery - although it does not result from sensory organ stimulation - is basically the same as perception in the manner in which it functions; and the theory of imagery types (beginning with the work of Sir Francis Galton in 1880) indicates that some persons are strongest in visual imagery, whereas others are strongest in auditory or motor imagery, etc.]. Four different classes of mental images have been described: afterimages - a perceptual experience that occurs after the original source of stimulation has been removed; eidetic images - prolonged mental imagery that is vivid and persistent, commonly called "photographic memory;" memory/thought images - images that are fragmented, pallid, indefinitely localized, and of brief duration; and imagination images -images that are influenced by motivational states and generally involve concentrated quasi-hypnotic attention along with inhibition of associations; this class includes hypna-gogic, perceptual isolation, hallucinogenic drug, and sleep deprivation images. Afterimages/aftereffects include the following: pos tural aftereffect - a subjective phenomenon resulting from adoption of an eccentric or abnormal body position for a period of time, and then assuming a normal position whereupon one has the sensation of an abnormal posture that is in the opposite direction to the prior abnormal posture; such an aftereffect is a result of the perdeviation effect - a form of postural adaptation where an eccentric body posture held for some time yields the sensation that the posture is normal; the Kohnstamm effect [named after the German physician Oskar Kohnstamm (1871-1917)] - refers to a postural aftereffect involving involuntary upward movement of one's arm after standing close to a wall and pressing the back of the hand hard against the wall for about two minutes and then standing away from the wall with the arm hanging loosely; typically, one's arm spontaneously rises into the air in this effect. Around the turn of the 20th century, mental images were mentioned frequently in controversies over cognitive experiences, such as whether images are critical to thinking and problem-solving processes. After the waning of interest in imagery due to the early influence of behaviorism in psychology in the 1920s, it has become one of the most significant issues in current cognitive psychology. In his dual-coding model, A. Paivio suggests that there are two main modes of coding experience: verbal processes - which involve a functional symbolic system and are assumed to be auditory/motor; and imaginal processes -which constitute the representational mode for nonverbal thinking. Paivio's dual coding hypothesis states that higher imagery conditions are so effective in learning and memory because they increase the probability that both imaginable and verbal processes play a media-tional role in item retrieval. Both verbal-sequential and imagery-spatial-parallel processing are needed for optimal human functioning. However, because of its concrete/ contextual nature, the imagery system appears to be more akin to perception (cf., the Perky effect -named after the American female psychologist Cheves West Perky (1874-1940), and refers to the subjective impression of imagery with the objective presence of a physical stimulus; when a person is asked to form a mental image of an object, and a very faint image of the object then is presented on a screen, the projected image may be taken to be the mental image; thus, this is an act of mistaking a physical stimulus for an image of imagination). It has been demonstrated that an image and a percept cannot be distinguished from each other on the basis of their intrinsic qualities. In addition to Paivio's dual-coding theory, a number of other theories/models of mental imagery have been proposed. For a listing of theories of imagery, see Appendix C. All these theories/models of imagery may be placed into one of two groups: the icono-philes - those who endow mental imagery representations with a special nature, and the iconophobes - those who hold that images have no special status concerning intrinsic spatial or pictorial characteristics. The current theoretical differences concerning mental imagery focus generally on two related issues: the degree of direct and functional relationships between imagery and thinking, and the nature and extent of the physical/isomorphic processes that underlie mental images in the brain (cf., health sweep imagery technique - a method whereby the person conjures up mental pictures of a liquid or other substance flowing through his/her body, typically beginning at the head and going down to the toes; in this way, the individual's malady or disease is imagined as being cleansed from the body; some other similar "sweepings" placed the person's imagery at the cellular level where "good/healthy" cells are imagined - as little soldiers - to be engaging in battle/combat against the "bad/diseased" cells/soldiers; and psychoneuromuscular theory - posits that imagery facilitates subsequent performance by innervating one's muscles, analogous to the innervation that is needed for actual performances). Throughout the history of psychology the notions of mental image and mental imagery have been scrutinized, debated, argued, and criticized. Today, however, there seems to be convincing evidence both for the importance of mental images in psychology in general, and for their practical applications in clinical and diagnostic settings, in particular. In a review of the imagery research literature, Roeckelein (2004) cites the following imagery-related theories: creativity, emotion, hallucinations, recognition, sex- versus gen der-differences, consciousness, imagery types, identical points, image complexes, image formation, imagistic representation, mind, perceptual development, projection, reflection, rhetoric, thinking, and visual perception; and the following imagery-related laws: afterimages, coexistence, comparative judgment, compensation/rivalry, contiguity, development, mnemic causality, perseveration, physical causality, reintegration, similarity, succession, transition, association, ideation, relationships, and reproductive imagination. See also FORGETTING/MEMORY, THEORIES OF; HEBB'S THEORY; NEW STRUCTURALISM THEORY/PARADIGM; PERCEPTION (II. COMPARATIVE APPRAISAL), THEORIES OF. REFERENCES

Galton, F. (1880). Statistics of mental imagery. Mind, 5, 301-318. Perky, C. W. (1910). An experimental study of imagination. American Journal of Psychology, 21, 422-452. Valentine, C. W. (1923). The function of images in the appreciation of poetry. British Journal of Psychology, 14, 164-191.

Holt, R. (1964). Imagery: The return of the ostracized. American Psychologist, 19, 254-264. Paivio, A. (1971). Imagery and verbal processes. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Sheehan, F. (1972). The function and nature of imagery. New York: Academic Press.

Paivio, A. (1982). The empirical case for dual coding. In J. Yuille (Ed.), Imagery, cognitions, and memory. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Pinker, S., & Kosslyn, S. (1983). Theories of mental imagery. In A. Sheikh (Ed.), Imagery: Current theory, research, and application. New York: Wiley. Richardson, A. (1983). Imagery: Definition and types. In A. Sheikh (Ed.), Imagery: Current theory, research, and application. New York: Wiley. Ahsen, A. (1987). Image psychology and the empirical method. New York: Brandon House.

Roeckelein, J. E. (2004). Imagery in psychology. Westport, CT: Praeger.

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