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A return of mental imagery: The pictorial theory of visual perspective-taking

Cole, G. G., Samuel, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-7776-7427 & Eacott, M. J. (2022). A return of mental imagery: The pictorial theory of visual perspective-taking. Consciousness and Cognition, 102, 103352. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2022.103352


The pictorial theory of mental imagery was a central concern of cognitive science during the latter years of the last century. Proponents of the theory argued that images are reinterpreted by the same processes that act upon perceptual inputs. This idea has recently re-emerged within the context of visual perspective-taking. The perceptual simulation theory argues that an observer not only generates an image of what another individual sees but the image is used by the perceptual system in a bottom-up manner. Based on the assumption of Kosslyn and colleagues, we argue that a minimum requirement of a pictorial theory of visual perspective-taking is that observers must faithfully represent relative distance between different points of a scene as would be viewed from an alternative position. The available evidence does not however support this. We conclude that the latest attempt to give mental imagery causal status in a cognitive process is unwarranted.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022, The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license.
Publisher Keywords: Mental imagery, Perspective-taking, Perceptual simulation, Pylyshyn, Kosslyn
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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