Individual Differences In Visual Perception Essay

1788 words - 8 pages

Group studies rest on the assumption that cognitive processes are homogenous, any variability is not considered important but rather a nuisance and so data is averaged across the subjects in order to reduce this “noise” or the influence of measurement error. Different stimuli, conditions and populations are used in order to understand better how object and spatial properties are processed in visual perception and imagery. The following examples help to highlight the ways in which “average” behaviour has contributed to the study of visual mental imagery.
As demonstrated in the previous section visual perception and VMI are likely to be separate entities, with some shared mechanisms. Group ...view middle of the document...

They investigated the effect of fearful faces of the participants’ performance in both a mental imagery task and a visual perception task. The results revealed that emotions did in fact have a similar effect on direct visual input and of internal representations.
Other research attempted to monitor brain activation while subjects perform a set of tasks, these studies indicate that the processes seen activated in brain imaging vary depending on the task at hand. O’Craven & Kanwisher (2000) set out to investigate the differences in brain activations for faces and places using fMRI. In their first experiment they ran scans on the subjects while they were viewing photographs of famous faces and places, and ran more scans when they were asked to form a mental image of names faces and places. They carried out a group analysis that revealed a similarity between regions activated during imaginary and those activated during perception, showing lower magnitude of activation during imagery. A further experiment showed that a portion of the fusiform face area was more active during viewing of faces and that parahippocampal place area was more active when viewing scenes.
Mental imagery and the retrieval of information from long-term memory appear to be tightly associated. A study by Brewer and Pani (1996) showed consistent reports of mental imagery during retrieval of information from the generic perceptual and declarative categories and much less imagery was reported for the semantic, motor, rote and cognitive categories. This association of memory and VMI may be distorted when subjects have specific impairments. By comparing the performance of subjects with a deficit to a healthy group of subjects, one can observe that impaired recognition of an object may sometimes result in an impaired ability to vividly remember the object. For example Gruber et al (2009) implemented a study on patients with prosopagnosia and compared them to a control group, the prosopagnosics were asked to estimate the vividness of visual images for different categories: face, eyes, form, nose and mouth, emotional faces, sunrise and landscape. Prosopagnosics showed lower vividness scores on the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ) than controls, this was more evident when they had to imagine face specific content. Interestingly, three out of their twelve prosopagnosics reported normal or even vivid mental imagery, hence making it difficult to conclude that impaired recognition results in impaired memory.
Single case studies provide some evidence for a collection of abilities in mental imagery, as opposed to a single ability the study of average behaviour determine how different populations differ on those abilities. For example, Kosslyn, Margolic, Barrett et al. (1990) carried out an investigation to examine age differences across four aspects of visual mental imagery, namely, image generation, maintenance, scanning and rotation. The data of the separate groups (5...

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