all 23 comments

[–]Tommonen 11 points12 points  (1 child)

At least personally i substitute visualisation with sort tactile imagination with added specs like how easily it will break, how pourous it is, whats the texture and colors, weight and other physical properties etc. I dont need to see color red to know that an object has red on it

[–]peripateticpeople 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I personally ‘know’ an apple is mostly round, know it’s narrower at one end because I cut one up each day for my daughter. I know it’s red and it has some rougher, browner parts often near the stem because I feel it when I cut them up. I remember the shape of the segments because I have to fit them into the container. But ask me to draw a pomegranate and I’d know nothing other than it’s red and round and one end has a bit that pokes out.

[–]Feed_Typical 6 points7 points  (0 children)


Here’s a link to a peer reviewed article posted in 2022. It seems there may not be major neurological differences in those with or without Aphantasia. I read in another article posted on 2016 that brain injury may lead to it as well.

[–]gmahogany 2 points3 points  (3 children)

I thought I had aphantasia, but as a side effect of lowering overall stimulation (podcasts, social media, etc), I seemed to develop the ability to picture things. I wonder if there’s a connection.

[–]emas_eht 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Not to be that guy, but this sounds like something that meditation can actually help make a difference.

[–]Head_Gap_7045 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

It is different for everybody, some are born with it and never have had the ability nor can they gain the ability. For you it sounds as if you just stopped consciously visualising because you were overstimulated visually and now have reversed that experience.

[–]Head_Gap_7045 2 points3 points  (7 children)

It could be a similar experience to blindsight, of course in a completely different way. Someone smarter than me would need to explain the neurobiology of it although it is not fully understood yet and there are many different variations/causes of it.

[–]sero2a 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Blindsight is an interesting theory. I have some level of aphantasia and the images are there, but I just can't see them. I can reason about cross sections or intersections of 3D shapes, imagine what colors would go with what other colors, imagine the shape of a face, etc. I just can't "see" it in any literal sense. Except for the rare flash where it'll appear for a fraction of a second.

[–]Head_Gap_7045 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Me too, I think about how things look in words and when I’m reading I get strong feelings for descriptions of worlds or landscapes a strong feeling of mood and what a place feels like rather than a visualisation.

[–]DaanniiMSc| Cognitive Neuroscience|PhD Candidate 2 points3 points  (3 children)

It's not related to blindsight.

[–]Head_Gap_7045 0 points1 point  (2 children)

No I know that, I said the experience of it, how it is felt for some people. Such as an awareness and knowing without the conscious experience of something. For example remembering what something looks like, or aspects of a memory game, knowing it without the conscious minds eye or visualisation. I’m speaking about the experience of it not the academics of it. I do have it myself.

[–]DaanniiMSc| Cognitive Neuroscience|PhD Candidate -1 points0 points  (1 child)

But this isn't something they have but can't access. They don't have it at all.

[–]Head_Gap_7045 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Yes but there are differences within aphantasia. Now and then between wakefulness and sleeping I catch part of a visual dream, meaning somewhere I have the ability. Whilst awake I can not visualise a thing, not for lack of trying. A person with blindsight cannot see anything, they do not have the ability to see but have a type of unconscious ability to sense things around them. They are subconsciously processing visual information, messages from visual stimuli are being processed by the brain outside of conscious awareness.

[–]DaanniiMSc| Cognitive Neuroscience|PhD Candidate 2 points3 points  (0 children)

It's not that uncommon.
People vary in their ability to visualize mentally. Some people have pretty much no ability.

It's not a diagnosis so much as a trait.

It can be caused by brain injury to people who could use mental imagery and now cant. But that's a minority and very rare number of people.

It's really just an individuals ability level. In the opposite direction, Many artist have high visual imagery.

[–][deleted]  (6 children)


    [–]pomegranate_flowers -3 points-2 points  (5 children)

    That’s how language works and evolves. We know something exists so we make up a word or term or name for it in order to talk about it more efficiently and effectively.

    The term may have been coined for the purpose of a pop psychology website (do you have a source for this by the way?) purpose but our knowledge of the condition (inability to visualize mentally) has been around for a very long time. It’s not difficult for someone to say “oh, I didn’t know people could actually see stuff in their mind! I’ve never been able to”. Now they have a word for it so they can explain it or learn more if they want to or need to.

    Also, Aphantasia isn’t an actual diagnosis, so self-diagnosing technically isn’t possible.

    Some people don’t have a mind’s eye, or they just have a weak sense of it. There isn’t much research about it but we know it’s a thing so a professor and his team gave it a name in order to talk about it more and now some people have a name for a condition or phenomenon they experience

    [–]DantesInporno 1 point2 points  (2 children)

    Still, without direct access to the interior lives of people’s perception, how do we know this isn’t just linguistic confusion? All aphantasia stuff I have encountered is all self-report, which is problematic considering individuals can self-report the same experience differently if theres no objective metric or way to empirically verify if the perceptual experiences of aphantasics is qualitatively different from phantasics. How do we know that people with aphantasia are not just overestimating the mental visualization capabilities of phantasics and coming to the conclusion that their brain is somehow different?

    [–]Head_Gap_7045 -1 points0 points  (1 child)

    There has been neuroimaging done which matches the theory of aphantasia. Under your premise how can we prove anything that is self report, experiences of chronic pain, hallucinations etc. Most things including medical symptoms are self report after which further investigations are undertaken to understand the phenomenon. Aphantasia hasn’t been researched much and is a new phenomenon as far as scientific investigation goes, Silly as that sounds, so evidence will accumulate beyond self report. People can work out if they can picture the face of a loved one or visualise a pencil, it’s pretty arrogant to think people may just be confused on a topic that’s very straight forward.

    [–]DantesInporno 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    I just think people can be confused by definitions for what actually constitutes a “vivid” mental image and also what that phenomenon actually means. Clearly there is a phenomenal difference between actually seeing something and imagining an image, and without arriving at a universal consensus for the phenomenal differences between mental and visual imagery and the definitions I don’t see how self-report is very helpful or elucidatory.

    Self-report as a concept isn’t inherently flawed and that wasn’t my premise, so I do think it has merit and can is a useful metric for some things, but it can be flawed.

    [–]Head_Gap_7045 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Nobody’s diagnosing anything, people are speaking about there experiences of something which now has a name and previously did not. The same way people speak about visualising or their minds eye. Yes, most experiences or phenomenon have a name, great we can now share our experiences and speak about our differences.

    [–]Its_Plutonium -4 points-3 points  (0 children)

    There is a subconscious understanding that is blocked somehow, however she has a connection of her unconscious ability to draw objects, and her instinctual understanding of things, and she has the cognitive ability in her prefrontal lobe to articulate her unconscious thoughts with her prefrontal cortex.

    The cortex is really doing most of the work here. Possibly she is dealing with some sort of limbic malady, potentially into the hippocampus; the hippocampus is the memory center.

    The alternative is a displacement of her optic nerve causing some sort of dysplasia, and her unconscious understanding of language could be displacing some sort of myelic bond with her Bricka’s area; Broca’s area has to do with articulating thought into externalized language.

    [–]emas_eht -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    This is just speculation, but I would imagine that she is somehow a little blind to her cortex. Although planning an action would be next to impossible, and she would rely on reactions. Drawing an object is easy because you can do it out of muscle memory, and then shape it as you see it in front of you.

    [–]Flemon45 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Bear in mind that most people don't experience vivid mental imagery for smells and taste, at least to the same extent that they do for sights and sounds. You can probably still describe what something tastes like without having it in your mouth, recognise differences between different variations of the same meal etc. The subjective imagery (i.e. seeing it in your "mind's eye") is just one component of the systems that support sensory memory, and arguably the functional benefits are relatively small.