Psychology is the study of experiences, behavior, and mental processes, of beings of different contexts. Now there is a field of psychology that deals with cognition. So what’s Cognition?
Cognition is a process to know, and a process through which we get information, manipulate it, store it and use it and also helps us to gain knowledge. For example – Thinking, imagination, perceiving, decision making, etc. are cognitive processes because in all of them we take information, manipulate it and store it.
So we are going to see the cliff of imagination.
It’s a very beautiful word as if it were meant for poets to artists, from a cook to an entrepreneur and from you to me. Imagination by formal definition is a re-arrangement of past experiences into a new pattern.
It’s combining our previously known, seen, heard, felt thoughts or images or as such in a never amazing unknown way.
Woods worth considers it to be a mental manipulation. Well yes, it is. You are using your previously known things differently.
So if I tell you the word, ‘Earth’, many of you will immediately think of those satellite images of Earth we have in geography books, some may have images of globe, some if very close to nature may hear the water or the wind sounds, some if see also those universe related series will have an image that way, or may see a child image of earth or some may feel the flora fauna that connects them to earth.
All of this is imagination. It is not just seeing. It can also be auditory means listening, tactile i.e. feeling, olfactory i.e. smelling, motile i.e. muscular movement. So we broke off the first stigma that imagining is all images! No, when I ask you of the day you won your first trophy or a particular book you read it does not just an image it’s also a sudden feeling in your body, maybe a sudden voice of the audience, all this is imagining.
It’s a symbolic representation of your memory. When you remember something it comes in form of any such sensory you are imagining. Now, why do we imagine? Uhh, that’s a question whose answer we don’t have but we do know it’s a highly complex process. Research says that as many as 12 regions of your brain activity when you imagine something but this is approx.
But imagination has a wide usage and we will talk about the types of it:
• Reproductive Imagination: It’s just imagining of things consciously seen, observed, or remembered. It is the normal imagination we all had when I asked you to think of the word earth.
• Productive imagination: Now this is combining two or more things and imagining something new, distinct. For example – you have a picture of a tree in your mind and let’s say you saw a random person walking around and you combined a tree and that person’s features to make an animated character! All in your head though! it can also be how we end up imagining ourselves in a situation which our friend is talking about and we do it when they find it saying! It’s just simply combining memories in unique ways.
Imagination on a huge and controlled scale is also used in exposure therapy. Now, this is a therapy used for Ptsd, OCD, panic attacks, etc. Wherein the person is exposed to the fear in a controlled way so that they learn to face the fear and understand it’s just a faculty of the mind.
Now, why does it work? Always we are told that when we think of a bad thought we should think of something nice to calm ourselves down. But it’s not helpful at all! And that is what they use in such exposure therapies. To know this you have to see the research that was done. It is as follows:
- So 68 people were taken and all of them were made to hear an uncomfortable sound something which causes them to itch or be like stop it! Then after making them listen, these 68 ppl were partitioned into three groups.
- The first grp was made to hear that sound again.
- The second one was asked to imagine that sound.
- The last one was asked to imagine a pleasant sound.
Now as they were doing so their functional magnetic resonance was done (fmri) wherein the regions are determined through the magnetic field in our body and they saw while the first grp was listening and second was imagining the itchy sound, three regions of their brain related to fear, risk and sound got activated showing how they were afraid and scared.
But when it was done for a prolonged time, then the brain of these two groups shows what is said an extinction. Their brain regions of risk fear and sound no longer activated the same way, they were very lightly activated or almost none! This showed that if we are given that fear or made to imagine the fear for more time the brain gets learned to that fear and no longer sees it as a fear!
The last grp which was made to imagine the good sound when exposed to the itchy sound, their brain three regions all showed a sudden activation. And this clearly shows that thinking of good things to evade a bad one won’t help at all it will increase the fear.
Instead imagining that fear without consequence reduces that fear and this subtle technique is used in exposure therapy. The patients are asked to controllably think of their fear to make the brain believe it’s no danger!
I hope all of this helps and I am imagining a smile on your face as you come to this end!
What’s your opinion on this? Comment down your views below!