Visual mental imagery has been characterized as an important aspect of our mental life, which consists of “seeing” in the absence of a sensory stimulus. However, the mechanisms underlying how visual mental images unfold during music listening have remained largely neglected. Here, we review the existing literature on the relation between music-evoked emotions and images, and we draw attention to how visual mental imagery has been previously conceptualized in the music domain. We also propose to adopt a conceptual framework from research on spontaneous cognition, which will promote a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the different types of music-evoked visual mental imagery. Finally, we highlight how music’s capability to trigger images can be harnessed in daily life as well as in therapeutic practices to foster the benefits and minimize the costs of visual mental imagery.
- visual mental imagery
- music-evoked emotions
- internally oriented cognition
- spontaneous cognition