psych notes part 6 - Mental Imagery Lecture

psych notes part 6 - Mental Imagery Lecture - Mental...

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Mental Imagery Important: The “pictures in the head” idea is: - wrong - not taken seriously - not part of the debate - used by some as a “straw man” Three historically important approaches (“themes”) in the study of mental imagery (i.e., three hypotheses about the nature of mental imagery): - dual-coding (Paivio) - propositional (Pylyshyn, Anderson & Bower) - functional equivalency (Shepard, Kosslyn) Q: What kinds of mental codes are used by the human mind? Experimental evidence that mental imagery uses a distinctive memory code: 1. mental clocks 2. mental rotation 3. selective interference 4. geographical memory 1. Paivio’s studies of comparisons of mental clocks The dual-coding hypothesis - Allan Paivio - part of the “ new mentalism - grew out of memory research using lists of paired associates - extended to research on mental comparisons . Imagine two clocks showing the times 4:25 and 9:10. Q: On which clock face do the hour hand and the minute hand form the larger angle? Paivio (1978) measured how long subjects took to answer such questions correctly.
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Reaction time (RT) tells us how difficult the task is. Longer latencies (RT ) mean greater processing difficulty. Shorter (faster) latencies (RT ) mean easier processing. Three kinds of evidence that subjects used mental imagery in this task: 1. self-reports 2. reaction times 3. tests of imagery ability People responded more quickly if the two angles were very different in size than if the two angles were very close in size. Subjects high in imagery ability were able to compare mental clocks more quickly than subjects with low imagery ability. Propositional explanations (e.g., Pylyshyn; Anderson & Bower): - Basic idea: There is only one type of mental code, and that is a digital (i.e., propositional) code. - This idea fits nicely with the computational theory of mind , such that all cognitive processes: - can be construed as rule-based symbol-manipulation; - can be explained in terms of a computer program running on (in this case, neural) hardware. Propositional theorists claim that mental imagery has no real function in cognition. - They argue that the experience of mental imagery is an epiphenomenon . Propositional theorists like to argue against a “pictures-in-the-head” analogy to mental imagery. But rejection of the “pictures-in-the-head” theory is rejection of a
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This note was uploaded on 10/03/2008 for the course PSYC 100 taught by Professor Capo during the Spring '08 term at Maryland.

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psych notes part 6 - Mental Imagery Lecture - Mental...

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