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The Representation of Left-Right Orientation: A Dissociation Between Imagery and Perceptual Recognition

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Eight experiments were conducted to determine whether visual mental imagery preserves left-right orientation in conditions where recognition memory apparently does not. Such a dissociation would suggest that information in memory preserves left-right orientation, but the process that matches input to such representations does not respect this distinction. In the experiments reported here, participants were asked to use one of two methods to indicate which way Abraham Lincoln faces on a US penny: Either they selected the correct profile from two sketches, or they formed a mental image and then specified the direction. If participants had just viewed pennies and were asked to visualize a particular one, they performed far better than chance; in contrast, if imagery was discouraged, they performed poorly when recognizing the profiles perceptually. However, unless actively discouraged from doing so, most participants reported spontaneously visualizing pennies prior to perceptual recognition if they had recently seen pennies.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-10-01

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