Mental Imagery


Mental imagery (varieties of which are sometimes colloquially referred to as “visualizing,” “seeing in the mind's eye,” “hearing in the head,” “imagining the feel of,” etc.) is quasi-perceptual experience; it resembles perceptual experience, but occurs in the absence of the appropriate external stimuli.

Why Use Mental Imagery

Today there are a lot of cognitive psychologists who believe that imagery has an essential role to play in our mental economy. They feel that the results of many experiments on cognitive functioning cannot be satisfactorily explained without making appeal to the storage and processing of imaginal mental representations.

Imagery could be used as a mnemonic device, meant to aide a person’s memory.

Train our minds and make the muscles do what we want them to.

It occurs in many cognitive tasks.

Example of Mental Imagery:

  • Flashcards - If done properly, whenever a person sees the word/picture, they can visualize what's on the back of the card.
  • Sports - Many athletes feel that visualization can help them towards victory. Visualizing themselves in the winner circle with the trophy. Also, practicing the specific skills they need in their heads.
  • Therapy - Commonly seen in certain therapy sessions(like hypnosis) when the person is asked to visualize something.


Glisky, M. L., & Williams, J. M. (1996). Internal and external mental imagery perspectives and performance on two tasks. Journal of Sport Behavior, 19(1), 3. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Thomas, Nigel J.T., "Mental Imagery", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.

Created by: Kelsey Thorson