Return of the mental image: Are there really pictures in the brain?

Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (3):113-118 (2003)
In the past decade there has been renewed interest in the study of mental imagery. Emboldened by new findings from neuroscience, many people have revived the idea that mental imagery involves a special format of thought, one that is pictorial in nature. But the evidence and the arguments that exposed deep conceptual and empirical problems in the picture theory over the past 300 years have not gone away. I argue that the new evidence from neural imaging and clinical neuropsychology does little to justify this recidivism because it does not address the format of mental images. I also discuss some reasons why the picture theory is so resistant to counterarguments and suggest ways in which non-pictorial theories might account for the apparent spatial nature of images.
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