Mental imagery and blindness

Chiara Renzi, Zaira Cattaneo, Tomaso Vecchi, Cesare Cornoldi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Although imagery is traditionally thought to be inherently linked to visual perception, growing evidence shows that mental images can arise also from nonvisual modalities. Paradigmatic in this respect is the case of individuals born blind or that became blind soon after birth. In this chapter, we will review evidence pertaining to different aspects of cognition showing that blind individuals are able to generate analogical mental images based on haptic or auditory input. These -representations allow blind individuals to perform efficiently in a variety of domains which require the use of imagery (such as memory, spatial and navigation abilities, numerical cognition), though exhibiting in some cases specific limitations or differences, which likely depend on the modality in which information is usually acquired in these individuals (e.g., via haptics and hearing) and the particular strategies employed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultisensory Imagery
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781461458791, 1461458781, 9781461458784
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2013


  • Blindness
  • Imagery
  • Memory
  • Navigation
  • Spatial biases
  • Spatial cognition
  • Visual impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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