Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 16: 259–262, 2003.
Imagery and text: A dual coding theory of reading and writing by Mark
Sadoski and Allan Paivio. 2001. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates, 236 pp. ISBN 0-8058-3439-7, US$24.50, paperback
The unspeakable images of September 11, 2002, that were seared into our
memories on that tragic day bear testament to the role of visual imagery in
cognition. They represent more than words can say and remind us that no
matter how well written text conveys meanings, reading and writing are not
Mark Sadoski and Allan Paivio provide an academically rigorous explana-
tion of a uniﬁed theory of reading and writing consistent with the dual coding
theory of cognition. Their empirically grounded text draws together, in one
eminently readable volume, evidence for the role of imagery in cognition
from the ancient method of loci to more recent neuropsychological research.
The book is replete with examples that transform the more abstract sections
into a concrete, meaningful read. Thus, the text is accessible to student,
theorist and researcher alike.
Although one could argue that the focus on text as written text is narrow,
and that their Western-focussed treatment of ’literacy’ is narrow in compar-
ison with deﬁnitions favoured by social constructionists, the text achieves
what the title signiﬁes: a dual coding theory of reading and writing.
Chapter two establishes an historical foundation for dual coding theory
and details the interaction of imagery and verbal processes in philos-
ophy, rhetoric, literature, psychology and education. The use of the Orbis
Sensualium Pictus (Comenius, 1658, cited in Broudy & Palmer, 1965) that
stressed sense experience, the basis of imagery, as apposed to an alphabet
approach, provides a vivid introduction to the role of imagery in the compre-
hension of text. In this chapter the authors succeed in their claim to present
and argue for dual coding theory as an overall theory of cognition in literacy.
They present this theory as an alternative to artiﬁcial intelligence and schema
theoretic models of cognition.
Chapter three presents a more detailed argument for the explanatory value
of dual coding theory in cognition. The basic units, organization of those units