Each of us have preferred representational systems. For example, when learning something new, some of us may prefer to see it or imagine it performed, others need to hear how to do it, others need to get a feeling for it, and yet others have to make sense of it. In general, one system is not better than another. However, depending on the context, one or more of the representational systems may be more effective: landscape painters - visual, musicians -- auditory, athletes -- kinesthetic and mathematicians -- digital. People at the top of their profession typically have the ability to use all of the representational systems and to choose the one most appropriate for the situation.

It is a traditional assumption among realists about mental representations that representational states come in two basic varieties (cf. Boghossian 1995). There are those, such as thoughts, which are composed of concepts and have no phenomenal (“what-it's-like”) features (“qualia”), and those, such as sensations, which have phenomenal features but no conceptual constituents. (Nonconceptual content is usually defined as a kind of content that states of a creature lacking concepts might nonetheless enjoy. [ 1 ] ) On this taxonomy, mental states can represent either in a way analogous to expressions of natural languages or in a way analogous to drawings, paintings, maps, photographs or movies. Perceptual states such as seeing that something is blue, are sometimes thought of as hybrid states, consisting of, for example, a non-conceptual sensory experience and a belief, or some more integrated compound of conceptual and nonconceptual elements. (There is an extensive literature on the representational content of perceptual experience. See the entry on the contents of perception .)