Types of Mental Imagery
The tables below represent an inventory of types of mental imagery. The division is into types is based partially on the work of Alan Richardson (Richardson, Alan, Mental Imagery, New York: Springer Publishing Company, Inc., 1969). The proposed divisions should be thought of as fluid and somewhat arbitrary. Although the exercise is useful, the classification into "types," and the resulting object/property ontology, may be somewhat misleading because the "objects," as I have suggested elsewhere, must be understood in the context of the phenomenon of what I call "intentional depth."
Each type of mental image is associated with a number of PROPERTIES. The properties are, for the most part, simply ways to characterize our experience. We know, for example, that an after-image induced by bright light is an involuntary response; it is not under conscious control. By contrast, when we call up an image in our imagination, this is a voluntary act. We can characterize our imagery experiences, therefore, as being under various degrees of conscious control. Degrees of variation also exist for the apparent location of images in space. If we consciously call up the memory of, for example, a text book, we can "see it in the mind's eye" -- but the mental image itself does not seem to have any location in the physical space around us. On the other hand, if we form a projected image of the text book, and we imagine it as "being over there," we seem to "see" the text book in a physical location. Two of the properties, then, of mental images are degree of conscious control and apparent location in space.
The introductory material (links from this page) concentrates on differentiating imagery types by degree of conscious control and apparent location in space. Further information on imagery types and the terminology used to describe the other properties is available in Richardson's book as well as in parts of my own work (see advanced material, Chapter 3).
Types of Mental Imagery -- Variable Properties CONSCIOUS PHENOMENOLOGICAL INTENTIONAL TYPE CONTROL QUALITY CONTENT After-images NO sense sensation itself Eidetic NO sensation-like object Hallucinogenic NO sensation-like unknown Memory YES quasi-perceptual experience Imagination YES quasi-perceptual possibilities Projected YES quasi-perceptual shape/size Thought YES quasi-perceptual actualities Types of Mental Imagery -- Presented Properties SPATIAL TYPE LOCATION MODE After-images NO single Eidetic YES single Hallucinogenic ? multi Memory NO amodal Imagination NO multi Projected YES single Thought NO single
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