Mental Imagery – Eyes Open and Shut

AbstractStudies of mental imagery often ask participants to attend to a visual scene at the same time as their mental imagery. Despite the common intuition that imagery and perception interfere (known as the Perky effect), results in such experiments are not typically distinguished from those found when participants engage with mental imagery with their eyes closed. Nevertheless, studies which demonstrate the analog nature of mental images by recording the time taken for participants to scan across images have consistently found quicker scanning speeds when participants have eyes open paying attention to a visual scene as compared to with eyes closed. We show here that these results are due to the external scanning of attention across a visual scene, and argue for a reevaluation of the results of such paradigms.

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