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Remembering the past and imagining the future: A role for nonvisual imagery in the everyday cognition of the blind and the sighted

By A. Eardley and Linda Pring


Images can be generated in all sensory modalities. Nevertheless, research on the everyday use of mental imagery, for example in autobiographical memory tasks, has suggested that it is only visual images that facilitate memory retrieval (e.g., Williams, Healy, & Ellis, 1999). If this is the case, individuals born without sight may be forced to rely more on verbal encoding (Goddard & Pring, 2001). This paper explores the presence and everyday role of nonvisual sensory imagery in 16 individuals with and 16 without sight. Using a cue word paradigm, contrary to previous research, Experiment 1 suggested that for both blind and sighted people, nonvisual imageries have a significant role to play in the generation of autobiographical memories. These results were reinforced by similar findings in Experiment 2, which used the same cue word method to explore the role of visual and nonvisual (auditory) imagery when generating future events. The results refute the claim that “useful” imagery in everyday tasks is exclusively visual

Publisher: Psychology Press
Year: 2006
OAI identifier:

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