Date of Award

5-20-2012

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Jon Page

Language

English

Abstract

Previous experiments have compared the processes of perception and visual mental imagery at the visual cortex. Many researchers have reported that the visual cortex is activated during visual imagery, although some believe that the visual cortex is not activated in a functional manner and that mental images are not actually images, but symbolic representations. However, few experiments have compared perception and imagination. Doing so may shed more light on the mental imagery debate. The purpose of the current experiment was to compare recorded brain activity from the cortex during imagination and perception in 30 college students. The participants were asked to imagine both a red and green sinusoidal grating and a black and yellow checkerboard. First, they were given verbal instructions and were shown a grayscale version of the pattern along with the colors they should use to imagine the pattern. Then, they were asked to imagine the pattern in color in their head. Finally, they were shown the actual pattern and were asked how their imagined pattern compared to the actual pattern. Responses were recorded in all conditions. Evoked potential waveforms were created and visually inspected to look for standard component deflections and to visually compare responses from the perception and imagination categories. It was found that the imagined patterns and seen patterns produced similar waveforms, supporting evidence for the claim that the visual cortex is activated in a similar manner during both imagination and perception.

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