Imagery-induced interference on a visual detection task

Catherine Craver-Lemley, Elizabethtown College
Martha E. Arterberry, Gettysburg College


The literature on the interaction between visual imagery and visual perception provides conflicting outcomes. Some studies show imagery interferes with perception whereas others show facilitation on perceptual tasks. The effects of visual imagery on a detection task were examined in six experiments. When either a bar image (Experiment 1) or an image of the letter '1' (Experiment 3) overlapped with the targets, interference was discovered; however, images not overlapping the target did not effect detection (Experiments 2 and 4). Increasing the number of target locations caused the interfering effects of the image to disappear; however, there was no evidence of facilitation (Experiment 5). Physical stimuli interfered with detection whether there was overlap or not (Experiment 6). The results indicate that imagery induced interference may be lessened with more complex visual displays.