Visual Perception and Visual Imagery

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If visual imagery and visual perception shared many of the same processes, then much of what is known to date about perception may be used and adapted to be able to understand the more internal and ambiguous process of visual imagery. The question is how much of mental imagery is actually a part of visual perception?

The concept of a ‘unitary mechanism’ has been recurrently mentioned in the text, although little has been said about what it means and implies. This is a term coined by Stephen Kosslyn (2005), he provided a model of visual imagery in which a single visual buffer is used “bottom-up” to display visual percepts and “top-down” to display internally generated images. The main claim is that the brain areas that implement the ‘visual buffer’ are also central during ‘visual mental imagery’. The ‘attentional window’ depicted in the model refers to covertly shifting one’s attention to scan over entire images without moving one’s eyes. ‘Information shunting’ refers to the concept that one sometimes cannot identify an object when only part is viewed and may rely on stored representations to hypothesis the nature of the object.

Despite the logic of the model, research has gravely challenged this idea of a single mechanism, bouncing back and forth with no definitive conclusion. Several neuroimaging studies have shown overlapping activation in the brain when perceiving and imagining. O’Craven and Kanwisher (2000) investigated brain activations of faces and places during perception and during mental images of faces and places. Similarities between regions activated during imagery and perception for the corresponding task emerged although showing differences in magnitude for imagined and perceived faces and places. Thus, q...

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