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Trends Cogn Sci. 2015 Oct;19(10):590-602. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.08.003.

Mental Imagery: Functional Mechanisms and Clinical Applications.

Author information

1
School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Electronic address: joel@pearsonlab.org.
2
Department of Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
3
Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK; Department for Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
4
Minerva Schools at the Keck Graduate Institute, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Abstract

Mental imagery research has weathered both disbelief of the phenomenon and inherent methodological limitations. Here we review recent behavioral, brain imaging, and clinical research that has reshaped our understanding of mental imagery. Research supports the claim that visual mental imagery is a depictive internal representation that functions like a weak form of perception. Brain imaging work has demonstrated that neural representations of mental and perceptual images resemble one another as early as the primary visual cortex (V1). Activity patterns in V1 encode mental images and perceptual images via a common set of low-level depictive visual features. Recent translational and clinical research reveals the pivotal role that imagery plays in many mental disorders and suggests how clinicians can utilize imagery in treatment.

PMID:
26412097
PMCID:
PMC4595480
DOI:
10.1016/j.tics.2015.08.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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