Can you imagine an apple?

A rad wolf

If you close your eyes and imagine an apple in front of you, what comes to your mind? Do you see it in your mind’s eye? Can you imagine its smell? This is called ‘mental imagery’. 

The Perception Census is one of the largest scientific studies on perception ever undertaken – exploring how our experiences of the world differ for each of us.  It’s broken down into sections, and we’re going to explore each of them in this series of blog posts. Previously we considered whether we can ever know what’s ‘real’, in a deep dive into the section ‘Boundaries of Perception’.

As well as perceiving the world around us, most people – though not everyone – can create mental images inside their own minds. These sensory imaginings can be just as interesting and diverse as the experiences of the real world around us, and just as varied.

Research has shown that some people do this very easily and do it a lot. Others don’t. For some, imagery experiences can be very vivid and detailed, much like normal perception. While others may not experience these mental images at all.

There is no good or bad level of imagery. We all just differ, and different levels may have different benefits.

Whether or not you do create mental images in your mind doesn’t seem to affect what else you are able to do, although it might affect the way you do things. The section of The Perception Census ‘Power of Imagination’ aims to explore how mental imagery and imagination work, and how that can impact other factors that affect our perception of the world.

Take part now.

More about The Perception Census:

Learn about the potential of your mind in fun bite-size chunks – a series of games, illusions, brain teasers and mental challenges that investigate different aspects of how you experience the world, teaching you about your powers of perception as you go.

The findings will help scientists and philosophers understand the unique ways in which we each experience the world around us – and the more people who participate, the more useful the research will become. 

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