Aphantasia

I know it's not seen as a harmful condition but how many here have aphantasia? I'm unable to imagine images,smells,sounds, taste and touch.

Comments

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    @verity will be interested in this discussion, I've sent him links to threads you made about this elsewhere.

  • At the moment I've got a poll running about aphantasia on a high IQ F/B group. It's a small sample size. 6/32 have it which is 18.8% . I think the general rate is about 2.5%.

  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor

    I don't have aphantasia, but one of my friends said he couldn't visualize anything. At all.

    He's an artist, so that resulted in an interesting conversation about how he draws without being able to visualize his work.

  • Loss of imagery phenomenology with intact visuo-spatial task performance: A case of ‘blind imagination

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0028393209003418?via=ihub

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen

    @firemonkey said:
    I know it's not seen as a harmful condition but how many here have aphantasia? I'm unable to imagine images,smells,sounds, taste and touch.

    I reported aphantasia to GPs, neuropsychologists , neurologists and psychiatrists and years before I had heard the word. I'm at the far end of that scale. I was never told there was others.

    Amity told me something I had described had a name. For a long time people on spectrum were associated with gestalt think and thinking in images. The reality is thinking in images isn't that unique. It is pretty common, in fact most language describes thinking that way.

    For me it is associated with difficulties in learning, working memory and executive dysfunction,. These issue are as important if not more than social issues I had. I just go burnt out getting nowhere.

    So for me is important it isn't represented as just a variation in thinking, becuase me and some other people there are difficulties associated with it.

    Don't get me wrong I have adapted, and come up with some coping strategies.

  • @verity said:

    @firemonkey said:
    I know it's not seen as a harmful condition but how many here have aphantasia? I'm unable to imagine images,smells,sounds, taste and touch.

    I reported aphantasia to GPs, neuropsychologists , neurologists and psychiatrists and years before I had heard the word. I'm at the far end of that scale. I was never told there was others.

    Amity told me something I had described had a name. For a long time people on spectrum were associated with gestalt think and thinking in images. The reality is thinking in images isn't that unique. It is pretty common, in fact most language describes thinking that way.

    For me it is associated with difficulties in learning, working memory and executive dysfunction,. These issue are as important if not more than social issues I had. I just go burnt out getting nowhere.

    So for me is important it isn't represented as just a variation in thinking, becuase me and some other people there are difficulties associated with it.

    Don't get me wrong I have adapted, and come up with some coping strategies.

    For me 'not seen' doesn't dovetail neatly with doesn't cause difficulties .. These are my weaknesses according to Cognifit .

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    I attended a course recently where we practiced visualizations as a form of therapy.
    I asked the facilitator what could you do instead for someone who had aphantasia, she suggested a type of guided walking meditation, with concrete sensory experiences spaced out along the path eg water and running water, natural textures, plants, scents.

  • @Amity said:
    I attended a course recently where we practiced visualizations as a form of therapy.
    I asked the facilitator what could you do instead for someone who had aphantasia, she suggested a type of guided walking meditation, with concrete sensory experiences spaced out along the path eg water and running water, natural textures, plants, scents.

    My 1st inkling that it wasn't the norm to be unable to visualise was a relaxation class back in 2005. Guided imagery was used. It did nothing for me. Others would mention various levels of improvement after a session. That made me realise that others must be able to visualise if they were getting something out of it

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen

    Part of the issue is people who don't have it grasping the lack of representation of thought becuase to many thought are representation of thought are indistinguishable / inseparable. Language is the clue here. Most words that describe thought are visual, with some auditory.

    A common misconception is believing the person might not be able see images but there is some lower level visual ability.

  • I could never do most visualization techniques very well at all. That isn't to say I cannot visualize -- I can picture things I've seen previously -- but I cannot do it on demand, in a conceptual way. If someone asks me to picture a lake by the woods, I can get only the vaguest sense of that. But if someone asks me to visualize people I know, or past memories, I can do that. It's the conceptual, on-demand visualization techniques that people like to use, that I cannot do.

  • I have visual Aphantasia, @firemonkey. I can see vague, indistinct flashes of how things look, but the pictures are fleeting and I can't "freeze frame" them to look more closely. I first discovered this in an Art class when I was sculpting a 3D dragon from clay. I realised that I had no idea what a dragon looked like except that it had a long mouth with pointy teeth (I think?), and a long tail. I had no idea of their ears or nose or legs or the proportions. Of course dragons aren't real (don't tell @Tem), but you get the idea.

    I started trying to picture other animals, people, places, memories, etc. and realised it's the same.

    I'm very sensory-based in my memories. I can remember sounds, smells, textures, and the impression of colours, but very little is sight-based.

  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor

    Most of my memories are sight based (I use other senses to trigger memories, but I focus on visuals while actively recalling it), but my ability to visualize things has actually gotten worse since I was a kid. It's all like an increasingly blurry image, I don't know why.

    I've also never been good at "manipulating objects" in my mind which I always hear autistic people being praised for being able to do well. It actually feels like I'm straining myself to attempt to do that. Like, if I think of a 3D model of a square and try to rotate it I genuinely can't rotate it how I want to, for whatever reason, and it feels weird to attempt to.

  • IsabellaIsabella Citizen
    edited November 2020

    Oh I can't do that either, @Hylian. It's related to spatial awareness. I'm really weak at that. It was one of my worst parts of my Autism IQ tests. I had to identify and predict patterns with a shape rotating. Nope. Count me out. Even in Mathematics I was always very strong in Algebra and Arithmetic (numbers and letters / synaesthesia), and even Geometry / Trigonometry with static shapes, but once I got into 3D graphing and planes I was lost.

  • SheldonSheldon Citizen
    edited November 2020

    @Isabella said:
    Oh I can't do that either, @Hylian. It's related to spatial awareness.

    I just tried it.
    It works for me, but it isn't something I try to do normally.
    Maybe I should. 🐨

  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor

    @Isabella said:
    Oh I can't do that either, @Hylian. It's related to spatial awareness. I'm really weak at that. It was one of my worst parts of my Autism IQ tests. I had to identify and predict patterns with a shape rotating. Nope. Count me out. Even in Mathematics I was always very strong in Algebra and Arithmetic (numbers and letters / synaesthesia), and even Geometry / Trigonometry with static shapes, but once I got into 3D graphing and planes I was lost.

    I think I had to do that, and I don't think I did well on that either. That and the block-patterns she had me do made her have a look on her face like I wasn't exactly acing it. lol

    This is also why I have issues with slide puzzles, like I mentioned in another thread. I cannot manipulate them in my mind and figure out the right way to solve them.

    @Sheldon said:

    @Isabella said:
    Oh I can't do that either, @Hylian. It's related to spatial awareness.

    I just tried it.
    It works for me, but it isn't something I try to do normally.
    Maybe I should. 🐨

    I've tried to practice it, but it's hard. It gets easier, but if I don't do it for awhile I just go back to being crap at it. Maybe I should pick up a slide puzzle more often.

  • After my stroke I had to play this game with my Speech Therapist:

    Strangely enough she taught executive function and critical thinking / perceptual processing as well as expressive speech.

    I was abysmal at it. It was much like a slide puzzle. I could only get one or two steps before giving up, and never solved the puzzle.

    I bought the game but haven't played it in years. I should look for it and see if I've improved.

  • @Isabella said:
    Oh I can't do that either, @Hylian. It's related to spatial awareness. I'm really weak at that. It was one of my worst parts of my Autism IQ tests. I had to identify and predict patterns with a shape rotating. Nope. Count me out. Even in Mathematics I was always very strong in Algebra and Arithmetic (numbers and letters / synaesthesia), and even Geometry / Trigonometry with static shapes, but once I got into 3D graphing and planes I was lost.

    The worst of my Cognifit performance (0-800 range)

  • I didn’t realize I was missing something - ie being able to visualize something in my mind - until I learned about it on WP. I thought all the descriptions of visualizing something were pretend. I asked my NT husband who confirmed he can literally see things with his brain.

    I suddenly became sick to my stomach realizing how blank my mind is.

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen

    I wonder if there is a correlation between Executive dysfunction and Aphantasia

  • Good question. I've just emailed professor Adam Zeman about it.

  • @verity said:
    I wonder if there is a correlation between Executive dysfunction and Aphantasia

    I've just heard back from Professor Adam Zeman. He doesn't think so.

  • I didn’t know that I was different from others in my inability to see anything with my mind’s eye. I thought when people said they could see something in their mind, it was hyperbole.

    This has been the most distressing part of learning about my ND. That I have been denied the ability to see in my mind loved one’s faces, or favorite places. That my mind contains only blackness. 😟

    I don’t dwell on it, just when the topic comes up.

  • Oops. Just realized I already said this once in this thread. Sorry.

  • Quantifying aphantasia through drawing: Those without visual imagery show deficits in object but not spatial memory

    Abstract

    Congenital aphantasia is a recently characterized variation of experience defined by the inability to form voluntary visual imagery, in individuals who are otherwise high performing. Because of this specific deficit to visual imagery, individuals with aphantasia serve as an ideal group for probing the nature of representations in visual memory, particularly the interplay of object, spatial, and symbolic information. Here, we conducted a large-scale online study of aphantasia and revealed a dissociation in object and spatial content in their memory representations. Sixty-one individuals with aphantasia and matched controls with typical imagery studied real-world scene images, and were asked to draw them from memory, and then later copy them during a matched perceptual condition. Drawings were objectively quantified by 2,795 online scorers for object and spatial details. Aphantasic participants recalled significantly fewer objects than controls, with less color in their drawings, and an increased reliance on verbal scaffolding. However, aphantasic participants showed high spatial accuracy equivalent to controls, and made significantly fewer memory errors. These differences between groups only manifested during recall, with no differences between groups during the matched perceptual condition. This object-specific memory impairment in individuals with aphantasia provides evidence for separate systems in memory that support object versus spatial information. The study also provides an important experimental validation for the existence of aphantasia as a variation in human imagery experience.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33383478/

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