Visual Mental Imagery and Intelligence Essay

Visual Mental Imagery and Intelligence Essay

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As creatures that depend so heavily on vision, it should be no surprise that visual mental imagery and imagery in general is a subject that should be of great familiarity to most people. One interesting issue however concerns the degree to which visual mental imagery plays a role in cognition. The quasi-pictorialism approach claims that imagery plays a significant role in mental processes. Another approach, the descriptionism maintains that visual mental images are really just descriptions containing symbolic information and play no substantial role in cognition. I would argue that regardless of whether or not images really resemble what they represent, all forms of imagery are vital for human intelligence. Imagery helps humans perform numerous tasks on a daily basis. It has uses which cannot be mimicked by descriptions alone, assist in learning, facilitate memory recall, and has played a role in numerous human advancements.

Much experimental evidence has arisen over the years to support the quasi-pictorialist position. Incidentally, these experiments also go a long way in showing how useful visual mental images are for everyday use and numerous other activities. The first of these experiments was conducted on mental rotations. Research showed that subjects could mentally rotate three dimensional objects in their head. While the time it took to do so vary depending on the complexity of the task, the very fact that subjects could perform mental rotations for such a relatively intricate task shows the value of mental imagery for problem solving and manipulation of three dimensional objects. Given that we live in a three dimensional world, this skill is absolutely vital. Without it, people would have great difficulty judging outco...


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... the Mental Image." Psychology Today. Pg. 23-28.

Pani, John R. and Brewer, William F. (1996). “Reports of Mental Imagery in Retrieval from Long Term Memory.” Consciousness and Cognition. Volume 5 (Issue 3). Pg. 265-287

Pascual-Leone, Alvaro, Nguyet Dang, Leonardo G. Cohen, Joaquim P. Brasil-Neto, Angel Cammarota, and Mark Hallett (1995). “Modulation of Muscle Responses Evoked by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation during the Acquisition of New Fine Motor Skills”. Journal of Neuroscience Vol 74 (Issue 3).

Shelley, Cameron (2010). Module 7: Images [lecture notes]. Waterloo, Ontario: University of Waterloo.

Smith, Mark K. (2008). Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences and Education. Retrieved from < http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm> on April 4 2010.

Thagard, Paul. (2005). Mind: Introduction to Cognitive Science. 2nd Edition. The MIT Press. 1-53.

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