Cognitive Psychology PSY 504
Many times when we are thinking about a scene an object no longer present, we experience an
image of that scene or object. People often refer to this as "Seeing in one's mind". The important
question in mental imagery is,
What is the nature of knowledge representations that underlie mental imagery?
These representations are called mental images. Much of this research has been concerned with
the types of mental processes that can be performed on spatial images. Images are tools of
People are different in imagery some has very good imagery some don't have proper imagery.
Eidetic Imagery refers to people's ability to see an image that is a perfect representation. If you
see a picture of a room with 12 chairs but you didn't count them at the time. And you asked to
look at the image of the room and count the chairs in it, those with eidetic imagery can do a
perfect count. Some have good eidetic imagery but some don't have. Like in an experiment in
previous lecture, that was conducted by Brewer & Treyens (1981). They provided an interesting
demonstration of the effects of schemas in memory inferences. In that experiment, 30 subjects
were brought individually to a room.
They were told it was an office of the experimenter and were asked to wait there. After 35
seconds the experimenter returned and took the subject to a nearby seminar room and subjects
were asked to write down everything they could remember about the room. Subjects would not do
so well at recalling items that are not part of office schema. They should falsify recall things that
are part of the typical office but not of this one. This is just the pattern of results that they found.
This experiment was also illustrating the eidetic imagery.
Anees A. Shaikh, a Pakistani psychologist in the USA has done a lot of pioneering work on
eidetic images. He did his PhD from USA. He said eidetic imagery can be developed. Dr. Akhtar
Ahsen also did PhD from USA and PU. He developed psychotherapy on eidetic imagery.
Akhtar Ahsen, Pakistani psychologist based in New York has developed a psychotherapy that
relies on eidetic images. Ahsen suggests that images are inextricably linked with memories. To
release the negative effects of our childhood memories he makes patients recall images of
parents that are associated with these unpleasant memories.
If we want to recall an event of our childhood we can do it. We also think what I was wearing and
my parents were wearing at that time, what was the location, what was the expression on our
parents face. According to Akhtar we can recall it easily. He says childhood experiences must be
released from our memories. Because they are negative and unpleasant memories and they can
create problem in our life.
Dr. Akhtar use a term ISM. It means Image, somatic component, Meaning.
Ahsen hypothesizes that each memory has an imagery component, a somatic or bodily
component and an interpretation or meaning associated with it.
By manipulating the image one can affect both bodily function and the meaning associated with it.
It is a powerful therapeutic technique.
For example, you close your eyes and think about a very beautiful garden or island. Think there
are many flowers, there is a beautiful lake, and there is greenery at every where. This thinking
gives you a pleasant effect.
Cognitive Psychology PSY 504
So, through all these we can release our problematic emotions. Because when we recall our
problematic events we can find their meanings again and we can understand it.
Hot and cold imagery
Ahsen also makes a link with the kinesthetic sense and imagery, especially the temperature
sensors in our nervous system. Hot and cold imagery can help relieve long standing mental
complaints. Ahsen claims that through hot and cold imagery we can even manipulate our physical
sensations of hot and cold. It is very strong claim.
Assume the winter season and you are sitting in a cold room, close your eyes and picture a hot
fire. You are sitting next to it and feeling quite warm. So warm that you take off the sweater. You
are still sweating.
Do this for half a minute. And open your eyes. Do you notice a change in how you feel?
You will feel hot even a slight. You will feel temperature sensation. Some feel more and some feel
a bit because the people are different in many things.
The childhood experiences are more eidetic according to the Dr. Ahsen. He says visual image is
Imagery is also be used in psychotherapy. It is very important aspect in treatment.
Examples of the importance of imagery or images:
If i say who Aristotle was think about him. Some can not give answer, some will say he was a
Greek philosopher, some will say he wrote many book. While you will be thinking about Aristotle
you will think his image as well. Some think just outline, some will imagine his dress and flowers
crown as well. Some will think him with beard. So the image will be vague or unclear.
When we read old stories and novels, we also imagine all situations in our mind.
But the image is unclear and vague. The physical image that we make in our mind is always
So, the image is possible in every case. We can also think about the religious people. God does
not ban in image making in inside. Like in many Hadiths, there are evidences of dreams. Dreams
are also images.
Albert Einstein discovered E=mc2. The question is how he discovered this thing. Einstein
explained it he made images about the temperature, energy etc. so images are very important. In
all important discoveries the mental imagery is very important. It helps in every field to create new
For example, Isaac Newton discovered the gravity force. When he was sitting in his garden and
think why the apple fall in ground not up. He thought and made many images of falling apple and
discovered the gravity force.
There is a suggestion imagery plays a very important role in discoveries. In the discoveries of
DNA, biologist thought about the ladder (helix ladder) and thought the structure of DNA is same
like that. So, the images are one of the very important aspects of the study of human mind.
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