Investigating the relation between imagery and perception: Evidence from face priming

Roberto Cabeza, A. Mike Burton*, Stephen W. Kelly, Shigeru Akamatsu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The relation between imagery and perception was investigated in face priming. Two experiments are reported in which subjects either saw or imagined the faces of celebrities. They were later given a speeded perceptual test (familiarity judgement to pictures of celebrities) or a speeded imagery test (in which they were told the names of celebrities and asked to make a decision about their appearance). Seeing faces primed the perceptual test, and imaging faces primed the imagery test; however, there was no priming between seeing and imaging faces. These results show that perception and imagery can be dissociated in normal subjects. In two further experiments, we examined the effects of imaging faces on a subsequent face-naming task and on a task requiring familiarity judgements to partial faces. Both these tasks were facilitated by prior imaging of faces. These results are discussed in relation to those of McDermott & Roediger (1994), who found that imagery promoted object priming in a perceptual test involving naming partial line drawings. The implications for models of face recognition are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-289
Number of pages16
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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