Visual Object Imagery and Autobiographical Memory: Object Imagers Are Better at Remembering Their Personal Past

Memory. 2016;24(4):455-70. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1018277. Epub 2015 Mar 9.


In the present study we examined whether higher levels of object imagery, a stable characteristic that reflects the ability and preference in generating pictorial mental images of objects, facilitate involuntary and voluntary retrieval of autobiographical memories (ABMs). Individuals with high (High-OI) and low (Low-OI) levels of object imagery were asked to perform an involuntary and a voluntary ABM task in the laboratory. Results showed that High-OI participants generated more involuntary and voluntary ABMs than Low-OI, with faster retrieval times. High-OI also reported more detailed memories compared to Low-OI and retrieved memories as visual images. Theoretical implications of these findings for research on voluntary and involuntary ABMs are discussed.

Keywords: Autobiographical memory; Involuntary memories; Mental imagery; Visual object imagery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual* / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult