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Conflicting intuitions may be based on differing abilities


Psychologist Bill Faw of Brewton-Parker College in Georgia argues in Conflicting Intuitions May Be Based On Differing Abilities: Evidence from Mental Imagery Research how people seem to assume that what is in one’s own mind is in everybody‘s mind when empirical studies clearly demonstrate this not the case. According to his research, about 2-5% percent of the 2,500 people he queried reported very poor mental imagery abilities or having no visual imagination. He adds that comparable estimates have been made in auditory and other imagery or sensory modalities related to imagination.

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A dual coding view of vocabulary learning


Dual coding theory, put forward by psychologist Allan Paivio of the University of Western Ontario, distinguishes between verbal and non-verbal thought processes, and places mental imagery as the primary function for non-verbal processing. The theory claims that information is stored in two different ways – verbally and visually – and although these two codes are independent of one another, and can each be used separately, they can also interact to enhance learning.

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Statistics of mental imagery


Scientists have known that some people cannot visualize things in their mind since the 1880s, when psychologist Francis Galton of York University in Toronto first published Statistics of Mental Imagery. The paper details an experiment where Galton asks 100 male participants to picture their breakfast table and then describe to him the vividness of their impressions. Galton discovered that this ability varied remarkably; some individuals could draw up mental images just as brilliant as the scene itself while 12 of his subjects could only conjure up a dim image, or no image at all.

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