Imagination/Memory Images

Examine the figure below for a moment.

How many corners does the figure have?

Now close your eyes and IMAGINE the SIXTH LETTER OF THE ALPHABET drawn as a solid block letter.

How many corners does the "sixth letter" figure have?

Now for some definitions that will prepare you for the next question. The "notch" in the top side of the figure below contains TWO corners.

These are "INSIDE" corners for this figure. The rest of the corners are "OUTSIDE" corners. So the figure has 2 inside and 6 outside corners.

How many INSIDE corners does the does the FIFTH letter of the alphabet have if it is drawn as a full block letter?

Did you inwardly "see" the letters? Did your eyes move as you "scanned" or "inspected" the imagined shape?

Experiments using examples similar to the above have been used by pictorialists to support the idea that mental images, such as those of imagined shapes (in this case drawn from our memory of the shape of certain letters), can literally be

INSPECTED OR OBSERVED WITH THE MIND'S EYE.

The pictorialists also used examples that involved not only the processing of "static," images as in the previous examples, but the dynamic, real-time manipulation of images. The "demonstration" that the use of mental imagery could be caught "on-the-fly" as

MENTAL IMAGES WERE ROTATED IN SPACE

was considered by many to provide positive proof that some mental images are processed directly by fixed mechanisms in our cognitive equipment. To try a version of this famous experiment (originally done by Shepard and Metzler in 1971) click here.* A much easier rotation example is included as Question 1 in the Thought Imagery experiments of this section.

*NOTE: This version requires you to create a name and password and does not use the same instructions as the original experiment. Subsequent experiments have shown, in my view, that such rotation experiments demonstrate only limited information about our cognitive equipment. It has been shown that the rotation response is not always linear, as was originally claimed. If you find a better on-line experiment for the rotation phenomenon, please contact me.