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For the mind's eye the world is two-dimensional.

Authors
  • Lobmaier, Janek S
  • Mast, Fred W
  • Hecht, Heiko
Type
Published Article
Journal
Psychonomic bulletin & review
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2010
Volume
17
Issue
1
Pages
36–40
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/PBR.17.1.36
PMID: 20081158
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The nature of visual mental images is a topic that has puzzled neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers alike. On the one hand, mental images might preserve the 3-D properties of our perceptual world. On the other hand, they might be akin to 2-D pictures, such as photographs, paintings, or drawings. In the present study, 16 observers judged where real objects (Experiment 1) or photographs thereof (Experiment 2) were pointing. Both experiments contained a perception condition and an imagery condition. In Experiment 1, there was a significant difference between the pointing errors in the perception and the imagery conditions, whereas there was no such difference in Experiment 2. In imagined objects, actual photographs, and imagined photographs, the direction in which the objects pointed followed the observer, regardless of his or her vantage point. The results from this study extend the rotation effect, typically found in pictures, to the domain of mental imagery. We found the rotation effect in pictures and mental images alike, but not in direct perception of 3-D objects; thus, we provide evidence that mental images share main characteristics of 2-D pictures.

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