Ask Slashdot: Can You Picture Things in Your Mind? – Slashdot


“It never occurred to me that having no visual imagery was unusual…” writes a science journalist at the Guardian.

“It’s not that I forget what I look like, but I am sometimes a little surprised, and don’t feel connected to my outward appearance as a matter of identity.”

There’s been a surge of research on how aphantasia affects our lives… [F]or some it affects images alone; some can’t imagine other sensory information, like sounds. Some people with aphantasia have visualizations when they dream (I do), and others don’t. There’s evidence that it can make it harder for people to recall visual details, though other studies show that aphants perform better on some memory tests unrelated to imagery… But overall, people with aphantasia don’t seem to have serious problems navigating their day-to-day lives, unlike those with more severe memory conditions like episodic amnesia…

Some people consider aphantasia to be a deficit and wish they could reverse it. People have claimed they can train their way out of aphantasia, or use psychedelics to regain some sense of mental imagery (the jury is out on whether that works). I have no desire for this — my mind is plenty busy without a stream of imagery. If I was born with imagery, it would be commonplace for me, and I’m sure I’d enjoy it. But I already can find myself overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings that have no visual aspects to them.
Long-time Slashdot reader whoever57 writes that “Personally, I never realized before reading this article that people could create mental images.” (And they also wonder if people with the condition tend to go into STEM fields.) There’s what’s known as the “red apple test,” where you rate your own ability to visualize an apple on a scale of 1 to 5.

Any Slashdot readers want to share their own experiences in the comments?



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