Mental Representation

A mental representation (or cognitive representation), in philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science, is a hypothetical internal cognitive symbol that represents external reality, or else a mental process that makes use of such a symbol; "a formal system for making explicit certain entities or types of information, together with a specification of how the system does this."

Mental representation is the mental imagery of things that are not currently seen or sensed by the sense organs. In our minds we often have images of objects, events and settings. For example, If you were asked to recall a birthday party, you could probably remember the people, the place where it was held, and things that you saw and maybe even the things you smelt. You cannot actually smell and see those things but you can imagine them.

In contemporary philosophy, specifically in fields of metaphysics such as philosophy of mind and ontology, a mental representation is one of the prevailing ways of explaining and describing the nature of ideas and concepts.

Mental representation (Or mental Imagery) is able to represent things that you have never experienced as well as things that do not exist. Think of yourself traveling to a place you have never been before, or having a third arm. These things have either never happened or are impossible and do not exist, yet our brain and mental imagery allows us to imagine them. Although visual imagery is more likely to be recalled, mental Imagery may involve representations in any of the sensory modalities, such as, hearing, smell, or taste. Kosslyn proposes images are used to help solve certain types of problems. We are able to visualize the objects in question and mentally represent the images to solve it.

Read more about Mental Representation:  Representationalism and Representational Theories of Mind

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