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.

The everyday picture for soldiers in Iraq can be disturbingly uncertain. Service members must be alert for surprise attacks anyplace, anytime. The emotional and psychological effects of such conditions can be devastating. Writing from Iraq, psychologists Bret A. Moore and Greg M. Reger, two U.S. Army captains, describe their work to maintain the well-being of service members. Their article, “Combating Stress in Iraq,” begins on page 30.

An entirely different battlefield is the one being fought for understanding. In “Do Gays Have a Choice?” psychologist Robert Epstein discusses the science behind the controversy of sexual “preference” (a term he disdains as judgmental). As it turns out, the answer is not black or white: rather human sexuality exists on a spectrum. Turn to page 50 for more.

One distinctive feature of Scientific American Mind is that such insights about the workings of our brains frequently come straight from the expert researchers who are at the front lines of their fields. To tap even more of that kind of authoritative wisdom, we have created a board of scientist advisers. Their names appear in the masthead, to the left of this column, and their expertise will help shape our coverage in the coming months. We hope you like the results.