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18 - Evocation: How Mental Imagery Spans Across the Senses

from Part II - Imagery-Based Forms of the Imagination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2020

Anna Abraham
University of Georgia
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Listening to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” may lead us to imagine a scene of an army charging ; seeing Margaret Thatcher on a silent TV screen may make us imagine the sound of her voice; seeing a feather moving on the surface of a hand might make us almost feel the stroke on our own hand. All these cases may be accounted for under the category of crossmodal imagery: the occurrence of a conscious mental image in a given sensory modality, caused by the presentation of an object in another modality. This chapter shows why crossmodal imagery should be distinguished from mere neural activation across the senses and internally generated imagery, and restricts its definition to cases in which the mental image in an unstimulated modality is caused by another sensory stimulus, and its contents constrained by this stimulus. This more precise category of crossmodal imagery challenges us to re-examine several accepted claims in the domain of imagination: The induction of mental imagery does not necessarily follow modal paths, daydreaming might not be internally but externally generated by what we hear or feel, and non-visual imagery, which is often considered less frequent, may prove easier to induce crossmodally through visual, rather than through nonvisual stimulus.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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