A Comparison of Mental Imagery and Perceptual Cueing Across Domains of Attention Institutional Repository Document uri icon


  • Mental imagery and perceptual cues can influence subsequent visual search performance, but examination of this influence has been limited to low level features like colors and shapes. The present study investigated how the two types of cues influence low-level visual search, visual search with realistic objects, and executive attention. On each trial, participants were either presented with a colored square or tasked with using mental imagery to generate a colored square that could match the target (valid trial) or distractor (invalid trial) in the search array that followed (Experiments 1 and 3). In a separate experiment, the colored square displayed or generated was replaced with a realistic object in a specific category that could appear as a target or distractor in the search array (Experiment 2). Although the displayed object was in the same category as an item in the search display, they were never a perfect match (e.g., jam drop cookie instead of chocolate chip). Our findings revealed that the facilitation of performance on valid trials compared to invalid trials was greater for perceptual cues than imagery cues for low-level features (Experiment 1), whereas the influence of these two types of cues was comparable in the context of realistic objects (Experiment 2) The influence of mental imagery appears not to extend to the resolution of conflict generated by color-word Stroop stimuli. The present findings extend our understanding of how mental imagery influences the allocation of attention.

author list (cited authors)

  • Liao, M., Grindell, J., & Anderson, B. A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Liao, Ming-Ray||Grindell, James||Anderson, Brian A

Book Title

  • PsyArXiv

publication date

  • February 2023