Visual imagery

In an item on learning in MindHacks and (here) in a discussion of learning styles is the following observation.

“I have a dear friend, Cat, who doesn’t have visual imagery. When she thinks of a dog, for example, she doesn’t see one in her mind’s eye. She doesn’t see anything. When she dreams she rarely has pictures — she just knows what is happening in the dream. People often don’t believe this. They think that everyone must experience their inner world in pictures, the way they do. Sorry. People are just different. Some always see things when they imagine them, some don’t. Some people have a sense of pitch, some don’t. So it goes…. For example visual imagery: it is not that some people are visual thinkers, it is that most people have some visual imagery and a few have very strong imagery and a few, like my friend Cat, have less than average.”


I take this description out of the context of learning and into the area of consciousness. I think it is clear that the friend is not blind in any sense. She can see a dog and does not walk into doors. There is no reason to think that she cannot tell which things differ in colour and so on. We assume that she is aware of her perception of visual objects but cannot imagine them. The lack of visual imagery in dreams would imply to me (unless of course she reported differently) that her memories were weak on visualization. This is because I assume dreaming is part or a by-product of consolidating memories.


If the same ‘spaces’ and ‘processes’ are used for perception of the present, imagination of the future, and memory of the past then I find the conscious awareness of perceptions/imaginings/memories must be somewhat similar. This is a real puzzle that requires much more information and thought.

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