General Question

gcoghill's avatar

How vivid is the typical human's mental imagery?

Asked by gcoghill (139 points ) October 16th, 2007

Does the mental imagery appear photographic, as if the image were a photo or a scene right in front of your open eyes, or is it more vague? How does this apply to memories?

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3 Answers

ben's avatar

Mine is definitely more abstract, which I think is common. Since my mind remembers ideas, not images, even if I feel like I have a visual “photo-like” memory, it’s reconstructed, and probably not very faithful to the “original” image (visually, that is. Semantically it’s right on target).

hossman's avatar

I occasionally have extremely vivid and detailed dreams, in which I not only recognize colors, but the dream is like watching a movie. Another occasional dream is when I dream that I am reading (some wild life I have). When I wake up I can briefly recall the mental image of specific sentences, and I can for a longer period recall the “gist” of the reading. I don’t recall this as just content, but rather I can briefly upon waking recall feeling the book in my hands and seeing the “actual” words on the pages as I read them.

gcoghill's avatar

I share the same experiences with both of the above posters.

My thoughts/memory almost feel at times as if I am a programmer looking at code, but seeing a webpage, kind of like that guy in the Matrix, watching the code drip by but seeing “blonde, redhead, brunette…”. The impression I get is visual, but when I analyze it, it isn’t actually visual, and in no way vivid or photographic. Very odd.

I usually have extremely vivid and detailed dreams (when I recall them), and have occasionally had, in the hypnagogic state (just pre-sleep stage), flashes of extremely vivid imagery which is also consciously controllable. Very cool.

I’m really curious how many out there have vivid mental imagery during normal waking consciousness, and if it’s possible to increase this ability through practice.

I posted a companion question on this as well: http://www.fluther.com/disc/3602/what-techniques-can-one-utilize-to-increase-the-vividness-of-ones/

Thanks for the input!

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