The Imaginative Mind

July 27, 2016 in Blog

The Imaginative Mind

Anna Abraham

Abstract: The astounding capacity for the human imagination to be engaged across a wide range of contexts is limitless and fundamental to our day-to-day experiences. Although processes of imagination are central to human psychological function, they rarely occupy center stage in academic discourse or empirical study within psychological and neuroscientific realms. The aim of this paper is to tackle this imbalance by drawing together the multitudinous facets of imagination within a common framework. The processes fall into one of five categories depending on whether they are characterized as involving perceptual/motor related mental imagery, intentionality or recollective processing, novel combinatorial or generative processing, exceptional phenomenology in the aesthetic response, or altered psychological states which range from commonplace to dysfunctional. These proposed categories are defined on the basis of theoretical ideas from philosophy as well as empirical evidence from neuroscience. By synthesizing the findings across these domains of imagination, this novel five-part or quinquepartite classification of the human imagination aids in systematizing, and thereby abets, our understanding of the workings and neural foundations of the human imagination. It would serve as a blueprint to direct further advances in the field of imagination while also promoting crosstalk with reference to stimulus-oriented facets of information processing. A biologically and ecologically valid psychology is one that seeks to explain fundamental aspects of human nature. Given the ubiquitous nature of the imaginative operations in our daily lives, there can be little doubt that these quintessential aspects of the mind should be central to the discussion.

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