The Image Is Everything
In recent years a new emphasis on experimental imagery has arisen within the area of cognitive studies. As part of cognitive science, imagery as a process of the brain and "mind" has surfaced after more than fifty years of disregard or neglect. Areas of research include studies which depend on data captured by electrophysiological means: electromyography, electroencephalograms, magnetic scanners, etc., as well as studies of only a descriptive nature. Very little activity in this specific kind of empirical research has been initiated by arts scholars and practitioners. Psychologists with interest in music, such as Carl Seashore, have led the way since the early 1930s. Hazel Stanton's "Eastman Experiment," Measurement of Musical Talent ( 1935) includes consideration of the concept of tonal memory. Since that time a very thin, but nevertheless continuous, progression of study has involved researchers in music and visual arts as well as psychology and neuroscience, taking up such topics as: tonal memory, eidetic imagery, affective response and images, measurement of aesthetic awareness, etc.
Do images exist? Some cognitive scientists maintain that the question of whether or not mental images exist is "a conflation of several issues, none of which involves imagery in any important way . . . One can take 'mental image' to denote experiences, or internal (neural) representations, or even intentional objects" (Block, 1981: 5-6). More specific answers to this question will be generated from and depend on answers from the remaining three questions.