Auditory Imagery

Auditory Imagery

Auditory Imagery

Auditory Imagery


The study of mental imagery has been a central concern of modern psychology, but most of what we know concerns visual imagery. A number of researchers, however, have recently begun to explore auditory imagery; this foundation-level volume presents their work. The topics covered are diverse, a reflection of the fact that auditory imagery seems relevant to numerous research domains -- from the ordinary memory rehearsal of undergraduates to the delusional voices of schizophrenics, from music imagery to imagery for speech. The chapters also address the parallels (and contrasts) between visual and auditory imagery, the relations between "inner speech" and overt speech, and between the "inner ear" and actual hearing. This book provides a valuable resource for students in many areas: imagery, working memory, music, speech, auditory perception, schizophrenia, or deafness.


The study of mental imagery has been a central concern of modern psychology, and, in the last two or three decades, we have learned an enormous amount about imagery. We have a rich corpus of data, gathered with an impressive repertoire of experimental techniques. There is a correspondingly impressive body of imagery theory. Central phenomena of imagery--mental rotation, mental scanning, the power of imagery mnemonics (to name just a few)--are standard fare in the psychology curriculum.

This wealth of information, however, has not been evenly spread. We know a vast amount about visual imagery (or, as some would have it, spatial imagery), but remarkably little about imagery in other modalities. While there are countless books and articles on visual imagery, the research literature contains a scant two or three dozen papers about imagery in any modality other than vision.

This volume constitutes a step toward remedying this information imbalance. The chapters here clearly do not inaugurate the study of auditory imagery. Instead, they celebrate the fact that research in auditory imagery has progressed to an extent that makes this volume possible. There are many reasons why we should welcome this research. At the very least, do the various claims made about visual imagery generalize to other modalities? For example, much has been written about the relation between imagery and perception; are these claims somehow unique to vision? Likewise, we know a great deal about image generation, but are different claims needed when we consider temporally defined auditory images, rather than spatially defined visual ones? To put all this more broadly, is it possible to have a theory of imagery-in-general, or does each modality of imagery have its own profile?

These are compelling reasons for broadening our research beyond visual . . .

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