Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the University of York's online course, Introduction to Cognitive Psychology: An Experimental Science. Join the course to learn more.
3.11

Thinking visually: Part 2

Here are the answers to the previous exercises.

Exercise 1 - The letter “T”

Imagine the number ‘7’. Make the diagonal line vertical. Move the horizontal line down to the middle of the vertical line. Now rotate the figure 90 degrees to the left.

Exercise 2 - A heart

Imagine the letter ‘B’. Rotate it 90 degrees to the left. Put a triangle directly below it having the same width and pointing down. Remove the horizontal line.

Exercise 3 - A stick figure

Imagine the letter ‘Y’. Put a small circle to the bottom of it. Add a horizontal line halfway up. Now rotate the figure 180 degrees.

Exercise 4 - A TV set

Imagine the letter ‘K’. Place a square next to it on the left side. Put a circle inside of the square. Now rotate the figure 90 degrees to the left.

Exercise 5 - The letter “F”

Imagine a ‘plus’. Add a vertical line on the left side. Rotate the figure 90 degrees to the right. Now remove all lines to the left of the vertical line.

Exercise 6 - A sailboat

Imagine the letter ‘D’. Rotate it 90 degrees to the right. Put the number ‘4’ above it. Now remove the horizontal segment of the ‘4’ to the right of the vertical line.

Via these examples you can see how a visual thinking machine might operate – that is, by taking facsimiles of the named items and manipulating these according to the instructions. But this, of course, is not the only possibility, and this is also clearly not what is going on inside the computer – remember there are no internal pictures. We are not ruling out mental simulation but merely that such simulations depend on internal pictures.

We can make this point more forcibly.

Class exercise

Imagine a cube placed flat on the table in front of you. Now reach for the back right-hand corner of the cue and bring this towards you so that it is vertically above the bottom left hand corner of the front surface. The cube should now be resting on this corner.

Once you are confident in having accomplished this now point to the positions of the remaining corners of the cube.

‘Health’ warning

The initial report of this demonstration states that of over twenty people tested, only one produced the correct answer.

It seems therefore that sometimes visual imagery fails catastrophically!