Is ambiguity detection in haptic imagery possible? Evidence for Enactive imaginings


A classic discussion about visual imagery is whether it affords reinterpretation, like discovering two interpretations in the duck/rabbit illustration. Recent findings converge on reinterpretation being possible in visual imagery, suggesting functional equivalence with pictorial representations. However, it is unclear whether such reinterpretations are necessarily a visual-pictorial achievement. To assess this, 68 participants were briefly presented 2-d ambiguous figures. One figure was presented visually, the other via manual touch alone. Afterwards participants mentally rotated the memorized figures as to discover a novel interpretation. A portion (20.6%) of the participants detected a novel interpretation in visual imagery, replicating previous research. Strikingly, 23.6% of participants were able to reinterpret figures they had only felt. That reinterpretation truly involved haptic processes was further supported, as some participants performed co-thought gestures on an imagined figure during retrieval. These results are promising for further development of an Enactivist approach to imagination.

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