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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The phrase mind's eye refers to the human ability for visual perception, imagination, visualization, and memory.

Mind's eye may also refer to:

In music:

In other fields:

The phrase "mind's eye" refers to the human ability for visualization, i.e., for the experiencing of visual mental imagery; in other words, one's ability to "see" things with the mind.


Physical basis

The biological foundation of the mind's eye is not fully understood. fMRI studies have shown that the lateral geniculate nucleus and the V1 area of the visual cortex are activated during mental imagery tasks.[1] Ratey writes:

The visual pathway is not a one-way street. Higher areas of the brain can also send visual input back to neurons in lower areas of the visual cortex... As humans, we have the ability to see with the mind's eye -to have a perceptual experience in the absence of visual input. For example, PET scans have shown that when subjects, seated in a room, imagine they are at their front door starting to walk either to the left or right, activation begins in the visual association cortex, the parietal cortex, and the prefrontal cortex - all higher cognitive processing centers of the brain.[2]


The use of the phrase mind's eye does not imply that there is a single or unitary place in the mind or brain where visual consciousness occurs. Various philosophers have criticized this view, Daniel Dennett being one of the best-known.[3] However, others, such as Johnjoe McFadden of the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom and the New Zealand-based neurobiologist Susan Pockett, have proposed that the brain's electromagnetic field is consciousness itself, thus causing the perception of a unitary location.[4][5]


  1. Imagery of famous faces: effects of memory and attention revealed by fMRI, A. Ishai, J. V. Haxby and L. G. Ungerleider, NeuroImage 17 (2002), pp. 1729-1741.
  2. A User's Guide to the Brain, John J. Ratey, ISBN 0-375-70107-9, at p. 107.
  3. Consciousness Explained, Daniel C. Dennett, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1991. ISBN 0-316-18065-3.
  4. Our Conscious Mind Could Be An Electromagnetic Field, UniSci.
  5. Synchronous Firing and Its Influence on the Brain's Electromagnetic Field: Evidence for an Electromagnetic Field Theory of Consciousness, J. McFadden, Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (2002), part 4, pp. 23–50.

See also

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