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Mistaking imagination for reality: Congruent mental imagery leads to more liberal perceptual detection.

Dijkstra, N; Mazor, M; Kok, P; Fleming, S; (2021) Mistaking imagination for reality: Congruent mental imagery leads to more liberal perceptual detection. Cognition , 212 , Article 104719. 10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104719. Green open access

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Abstract

Visual experiences can be triggered externally, by signals coming from the outside world during perception; or internally, by signals from memory during mental imagery. Imagery and perception activate similar neural codes in sensory areas, suggesting that they might sometimes be confused. In the current study, we investigated whether imagery influences perception by instructing participants to imagine gratings while externally detecting these same gratings at threshold. In a series of three experiments, we showed that imagery led to a more liberal criterion for reporting stimulus presence, and that this effect was both independent of expectation and stimulus-specific. Furthermore, participants with more vivid imagery were generally more likely to report the presence of external stimuli, independent of condition. The results can be explained as either a low-level sensory or a high-level decision-making effect. We discuss that the most likely explanation is that during imagery, internally generated sensory signals are sometimes confused for perception and suggest how the underlying mechanisms can be further characterized in future research. Our findings show that imagery and perception interact and emphasize that internally and externally generated signals are combined in complex ways to determine conscious perception.

Type: Article
Title: Mistaking imagination for reality: Congruent mental imagery leads to more liberal perceptual detection.
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104719
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104719
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Mental imagery, Perception, Reality monitoring, Signal detection theory
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10126705
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