Images represented by filled cells in an array
Cells in a matrix inside a machine’s memory function as if they were arranged in a visual array. Images correspond to filled cells within such an array. Array-based sensory patterns are interpreted by higher-level systems.


  • This argument is sometimes referred to as the "Cathode Ray Tube", or "CRT" metaphor.
  • Arrays are also called matrices or surface matrices.

History of the Image Debate

For most of the 20th century, imagery research enjoyed little favour, due to the dominance of behaviour psychology. John Watson (1913) led the behaviourists in rejecting imagery research, because it involves nonobservable, introspective evidence.

During the 1960s, through the efforts of Allan Paivio and others, image research was revitalised. Images were given a role in explanations of learning memory, perception, and other psychological processes.

In the early 1970s, a new cognitivist critique of imagery was launched by the advocates of cognitive psychology, notably Zenon Pylyshyn. The critique emphasised the importance of symbolic structures, or propositions, in the explanations of image effects. A psychological debate ensued that is still active.

The current imagery debate is primarily a debate in psychology about the nature of mental images, how they are processed, and how they are implemented in the brain. Some of the debate is represented on this map in "Is image psychology a valid approach to mental processing?" arguments.

For further discussion of the history of imagery in psychology see Alan Paivio (1971, pp.2-8) and Stephen Kosslyn (1994, pp.1-4).

Artificial Intelligence »Artificial Intelligence
Can computers think? [1] »Can computers think? [1]
No: computers can't understand images [5b] »No: computers can't understand images [5b]
Images represented by filled cells in an array
Images are Quasi-pictorial representations »Images are Quasi-pictorial representations
Images are interpreted symbol-filled arrays »Images are interpreted symbol-filled arrays
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