I can’t picture things in my mind. I didn’t realize that was unusual

“People with aphantasia can’t mentally visualize things. Mental imagery is a spectrum, and we lie outside it, in the dark”

Shayla Love reports for The Guardian:

“I discovered I had aphantasia by accident. When you live your entire life without a ‘mind’s eye’, it seems completely normal to visualize nothing when remembering people and places, or imagining the future.

Two years ago, I wrote an article about pupillometry, or the measurement of a person’s pupils to infer their cognitive state. Joel Pearson, a psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of New South Wales, was trying to use pupils as a biomarker to assess aphantasia, a condition thought to affect about 3.9% of people.

A quick at-home test for aphantasia, I learned, was called the red star or red apple test. Close your eyes and picture a red apple. How well can you see the apple visually on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the most vivid? Can you see its color, shape and the length of the stem? Is it a bit hazy, coming in and out of focus? For me, I saw nothing – no fuzzy outline, no hint of any image at all. While working on my story, I thought, ‘Well, no one can really see an apple when they close their eyes. It’s just a metaphor.’ Then, I asked some friends. Not everyone was a 1, but most could see between 1 and 4. (There’s also a more official questionnaire, called the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire, or the VVIQ.) …”

You can read more from here.

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