When we imagine something and see the images in our head, where exactly is it all happening and how?



For example let’s say I’m daydreaming about a car, I can now see a detailed ‘video’ of the car driving and doing whatever I want it to. Obviously I’m not seeing this with my eyes, so where am I seeing it?

In: Biology

> MRI brain scans show that when you imagine a picture of that object, the same neural pattern lights up, just slightly less strongly than when you are actually seeing it. “Picturing an image in your mind’s eye is like running the system from the top down, rather than from the bottom up,” says Zeman

basically you’re seeing it in the exact part of your brain as if you were actually seeing it, just not as strongly because you’re not actually looking at it.

Edit: adding a source to my [quote](https://www.newscientist.com/article/2083706-my-minds-eye-is-blind-so-whats-going-on-in-my-brain/) because it’s an interesting read.


The visual cortex.

This is why some people can “visualise” an object that they aren’t able to see, how they can visualise what the reverse-parking looks like from above (to help them get into parking spots), and so on.

Your eyes see nothing. They just pass on the signal and it’s the visual cortex that interprets it (the image is actually upside-down when it’s on the back of your eye!). That part of the brain is able – in most people – to split itself almost like a dual-screen… you can see things that the eye is sending you but you can also see things that your brain is creating for itself. This applies to dreams, imagination (imagine a pink elephant… bam… you just used it and didn’t have to shut down your vision), visualisation from other angles.

Very useful and often necessary part to being a good engineer, mathematician, physicist, driver… all kinds of things.

Can someone tell me the philosophical term for this question? I remember reading it somewhere where consciousness is reduced to simple chemicals and neurons firing, does that mean that my reality isn’t really real?

It isn’t very detailed. We imagine thoughts and memories to be perfect almost videos, yet we don’t remember most of the details- just an altered version of what happened. Your memory constantly combines with memory of your imagination at the time.

Imagine your visionary brain works kind of like a Lite Brite (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49wHAYlCHaI if you don’t know what that is).

When you are physically viewing things your brain is trying to match the input image with a wide array of pre-built Lite Bright “templates” you have stored in memory. It would be like if you passed a physical, light-emitting screen which shows a real photo behind the surface of the Lite Bright, in front of various pre-made templates that you own to see which ones lit up 100%, or at least which one lit up the best. I’m ignoring the fact that this is probably broken down into much smaller fragments than a whole image, and these fragments all have various associations with each other that are organized in a way that you can reuse and group certain pieces together and name them things, like “the group of pieces that make a cat” or “fast moving object flying at my face”. Anyway..

When you’re imagining it this in in reverse, it’s like taking the pre-existing fragment groups (Lite Bright templates) you know from memory and then lighting them yourself from behind to see what they are.

You’re essentially asking how human conciousness works, in order to understand that you’d need to access something more complicated than human conciousness. Which of course is impossible as human conciousness is the upper limit of anything you can experience.

So the only honest answer here is nobody knows.

I saw a Vsauce mind field video about this (I want to say it was the one about mind reading but I could be wrong) and he said the image we make in our minds aren’t detailed at all, it’s just what our mind can spit out and we accept it as true. The example he used was “think of an elephant, now think of a pink elephant…” and so on, and with each question it got more and more clear, so if you think of a car, you won’t think about a color until someone (or yourself) ask you about it, then the tires and the type of rims, then the tint, or the scene behind the car (is it on a mountain? Is it sunset? the brain is amazing!