When you think of this morning's breakfast table, what exactly appears in your mind's eye? How sharp is the image? Do you “see” the colorful bits of cereal floating in the bowl, the glinting steel spoon on the napkin, the half-full coffee mug—or do you just “know” they are there?
More than a century ago Francis Galton, the famous anthropologist and statistician, asked numerous colleagues and friends to recall their breakfast spreads and was startled by how varied the answers were. Some people said their mental view was as vivid as reality; others reported their internal images were faint or even nonexistent. What brain mechanisms could account for such differences? Physician and science writer Thomas Grueter synthesizes the latest research on the topic in his article “Picture This,” starting on page 18.