An explanation for normal and anomalous drawing ability and some implications for research on perception and imagery

Visual Arts Research 28 (1):38-52 (2006)
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The aim of this paper is to draw the attention of those conducting research on imagery to the different kinds of visual information deployed by expert drawers compared to non-expert drawers. To demonstrate this difference I draw upon the cognitive science literature on vision and imagery to distinguish between three different ways that visual phenomena can be represented in memory: structural descriptions, denotative descriptions, and configural descriptions. Research suggests that perception and imagery deploy the same mental processes and that the drawing of one's imagery would require the simultaneous deployment of these very processes. I reason that drawing a picture of one's imagery is not possible. I hypothesize that when required to draw a picture from memory, both expert and non-expert drawers access their denotative description of the object rather than their imagery. I then suggest how my hypothesis could be tested and if accurate, how this finding would impact upon the design and interpretation of experiments on imagery when drawing is involved. I also suggest why the constraints that perception places upon the simultaneous deployment of imagery appear not to cause the same constraints in autistic savant drawers and visual agnosia patients.
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