A longstanding issue is whether perception and mental imagery share similar cognitive and neural mechanisms. To cast further light on this problem, we compared the effects of real and mentally generated visual stimuli on simple reaction time (RT). In five experiments, we tested the effects of difference in luminance, contrast, spatial frequency, motion, and orientation. With the intriguing exception of spatial frequency, in all other tasks perception and imagery showed qualitatively similar effects. An increase in luminance, contrast, and visual motion yielded a decrease in RT for both visually presented and imagined stimuli. In contrast, gratings of low spatial frequency were responded to more quickly than those of higher spatial frequency only for visually presented stimuli. Thus, the present study shows that basic dependent variables exert similar effects on visual RT either when retinally presented or when imagined. Of course, this evidence does not necessarily imply analogous mechanisms for perception and imagery, and a note of caution in such respect is suggested by the large difference in RT between the two operations. However, the present results undoubtedly provide support for some overlap between the structural representation of perception and imagery.

Similar effects of visual perception and imagery on simple reaction time.

BROGGIN, Elena;SAVAZZI, Silvia;MARZI, Carlo Alberto
2012-01-01

Abstract

A longstanding issue is whether perception and mental imagery share similar cognitive and neural mechanisms. To cast further light on this problem, we compared the effects of real and mentally generated visual stimuli on simple reaction time (RT). In five experiments, we tested the effects of difference in luminance, contrast, spatial frequency, motion, and orientation. With the intriguing exception of spatial frequency, in all other tasks perception and imagery showed qualitatively similar effects. An increase in luminance, contrast, and visual motion yielded a decrease in RT for both visually presented and imagined stimuli. In contrast, gratings of low spatial frequency were responded to more quickly than those of higher spatial frequency only for visually presented stimuli. Thus, the present study shows that basic dependent variables exert similar effects on visual RT either when retinally presented or when imagined. Of course, this evidence does not necessarily imply analogous mechanisms for perception and imagery, and a note of caution in such respect is suggested by the large difference in RT between the two operations. However, the present results undoubtedly provide support for some overlap between the structural representation of perception and imagery.
2012
visual imagery; visual perception; reaction time; behavioural paradigm; psychophysical effects
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/362602
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