Book Definition:

Stephen Kosslyn found that we can use our conscious minds to "zoom in," camera like, on the details of our mental images. We consciously manipulate our visual images in much the same way that we might manipulate physical objects in the outside world.

In Your Own Words

  • We have the ability to control our mental pictures and look for more details.
  • Creating a mental image in your mind and from that image choosing a certain area and bring it closer to your attention.
  • When the details you're asked to "zoom in" on are more specific, your descriptions become less accurate.


  • Picturing where everything is located inside of your parents car.
  • Thinking about a bird and then zooming in closer picking out color, shape and other details.
  • Thinking of your house then thinking about the color of the brick on your house.
  • Thinking about what your first period A day classroom looks like and being able to tell where the posters and chalkboard are in the room.
  • Sitting in class and trying to figure out what color your favorite stuffed animals bow is.
  • Thinking about your room and all of the things on your wall like posters and calenders.
  • When you leave home to go to school, you think about all the these in your backpack that you need for school.
  • When you think about the colors of the rainbow, you picture what colors are next to what colors.


Close your eyes and imagine a house. Think about the different details like the color, roof tiles, doorknob etc. See how much time it takes for each small detail and you will notice that the smaller and more intricate the detail, the harder and longer it takes to recall it.

This is because psychologist Kosslyn discovered that people need more time to "zoom in" on details in our imagination. Just like in the real world, we see mental images as a whole rather than seeing its individual parts.