Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience

How Well Do We Know How Well We Are Imagining Sounds?

Mental imagery abilities vary among individuals, as shown both by objective measures and by self-report. Few imagery studies consider auditory imagery, however. In this talk, I will argue that a. there are individual differences in auditory imagery for music b. these can be captured via self-report and c. this self-report predicts some interesting behavioral and neural aspects of imagining music. The Bucknell Auditory Imagery Scale is a short self-report measure encompassing both Vividness and Control of auditory imagery. High scores on Vividness predict outcomes as varied as source memory errors in distinguishing heard from imagined tunes pitch imitation tasks as well as neural activity and gray matter volume in several brain areas that are known to be involved in auditory imagery. Another way auditory imagery may vary is from trial to trial and I offer some examples of the predictive value of self-reports of that more “state” aspect of auditory imagery. Even though self-report measures encompass both cognitive and metacognitive aspects, they are useful tools in accounting for individual differences in high-level cognitive skills.