Vividness of mental imagery: individual variability can be measured objectively

Vision Res. 2007 Feb;47(4):474-8. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2006.11.013. Epub 2007 Jan 19.


When asked to imagine a visual scene, such as an ant crawling on a checkered table cloth toward a jar of jelly, individuals subjectively report different vividness in their mental visualization. We show that reported vividness can be correlated with two objective measures: the early visual cortex activity relative to the whole brain activity measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the performance on a novel psychophysical task. These results show that individual differences in the vividness of mental imagery are quantifiable even in the absence of subjective report.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychophysics
  • Visual Cortex / physiology