Two experiments comparing imaginative processing in different modalities and semantic processing were carried out to investigate the issue of whether conceptual knowledge can be represented in different format. Participants were asked to judge the similarity between visual images, auditory images, and olfactory images in the imaginative block, if two items belonged to the same category in the semantic block. Items were verbally cued in both experiments. The degree of similarity between the imaginative and semantic items was changed across experiments. Experiment 1 showed that the semantic processing was faster than the visual and the auditory imaginative processing, whereas no differentiation was possible between the semantic processing and the olfactory imaginative processing. Experiment 2 revealed that only the visual imaginative processing could be differentiated from the semantic processing in terms of accuracy. These results showed that the visual and auditory imaginative processing can be differentiated from the semantic processing, although both visual and auditory images strongly rely on semantic representations. On the contrary, no differentiation is possible within the olfactory domain. Results are discussed in the frame of the imagery debate. © 2013 Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag.
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