Mental Representation of Knowledge



Mental Representation of Knowledge

External representations

In one’s mind, knowledge is represented as a set of images one can relate to. The mind will represent a picture in the course work as analogous to its real world features and what it represents such as its shape. In one’s mind, pictures are used to capture spatial knowledge. A pictorial representation in the mind can portray all features of the information simultaneously. Unlike pictures, they are not systematic in the idea they convey. The relationship between them and what they represent is purely arbitrary; this is because of differences in language. A certain word could have two meanings in different languages, a picture, however, will only have the same image. The mind will represent information in the form of words in a sequential manner, using symbols to represent the words. Words that a professor expressed with strong emotions are more likely to form lasting memory (Kousta, et al, 2011).

Images not within one’s sensory vicinity

On mental imagery, when things are not in the immediate reach of one’s senses, they are represented in his mind by mental imagery. For example, abstract concepts like good overcoming a phobia one has. Procedural knowledge will be represented in this manner.

Propositional Theory

Rather than complete images in the mind, the propositional theory explains that we use propositions that are abstract mental images. This is for both verbal statements and images (Goldstein, 2014).

Dual-code theory

If one follows the dual-code theory, then, images will be represented in one’s mind in the form of analogue codes, a symbolic code will represent verbal statements. Codes used to represent the two types of information will be entirely different. As such, it is almost impossible to carry out tasks that require the same code as they will interfere with each other. One can struggle to define cognitive psychology and dual-code theory at the same time, or visualize a dog and the Taj Mahal simultaneously, but it is possible to both draw a dog and define dual code theory simultaneously (Steinberg, 2006).


Goldstein, E. (2014). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience. Cengage Learning.

Kousta, S. T., Vigliocco, G., Vinson, D. P., Andrews, M., & Del Campo, E. (2011). The representation of abstract words: why emotion matters. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General140(1), 14.

Stenberg, G. (2006). Conceptual and perceptual factors in the picture superiority effect. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology. doi:10.1080/09541440500412361