Until a few years ago, research on the nature and function of mental imagery was one of the success stories of modern experimental psychology. A considerable amount of experimental work was carried out during the 1960s, and this appeared to implicate mental imagery not only as an empirical phenomenon of considerable predictive importance, but also at the theoretical level as a major representational system underlying human cognitive behaviour. Especially in North America, this research was widely hailed as reflecting a major change in the direction of experimental psychology, and a reaction against the excesses of the behaviourist tradition. Indeed, it was said that this change represented a shift in the scientific paradigm employed by experimental psychologists which made it possible for them to carry out a rigorous empirical investigation of an aspect of human experience which they had long neglected (see, for example, the papers by Holt, 1964; Kessel, 1972; and Neisser, 1972a, 1972b).
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