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Aphantasia is the inability to visualize. Otherwise known as imagine-free imagination.
What do you “see ” in your mind?
People with aphantasia don’t create any images of familiar objects, people, or places in their mind’s eye, not for thoughts, memories, or pictures of the future.
We lack this visual system completely .
Can you hear the horse neigh? Imagine what it would feel like to travel on horseback?
Imagination is a spectrum – and not just for our visual imagery but across all our senses!
There exist remarkable, often unsuspected invisible differences in our sensory imagination ranging from absence (aphantasia) to extremely vivid (hyperphantasia), and everything in-between.
Aphantasia can impact our ability to recollect events and facts from our past experiences (autobiographical memory ).
Evidence also points to a connection to other aspects of human experience, impacting everything from education and career choices to reduced PTSD sensitivity and even the reliability of our eye-witness testimony.
‘Imaginative’ means having or showing creativity or inventiveness. Creativity involves a whole network of brain activities from integrating past events and identities to thinking about the future and navigating different pathways toward desired goals to invent novel things.
Aphantasics can still do all these things! We simply go about the creative process differently .
Aphantasia is a variation in human experience. It is not a disability, disorder, or defect .
Nor is it a barrier to success.
Discovering you have aphantasia can lead to new insights into your unique way of thinking, insights that can greatly impact your life, work, and wellbeing often in unimaginable ways.
An estimated ~3-5% of the population experience aphantasia, and another 10-15% are believed to experience the opposite, hyperphantasia.
Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and former president of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Craig Venter, biologist who first sequenced the Human Genome. Blake Ross, creator of Mozilla Firefox. Glen Keane, Disney Animator and Creator of The Little Mermaid. Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller.
All have aphantasia.
Aphantasia and hyperphantasia are relatively new scientific discoveries , and these invisible differences in how we imagine impact our life, work, and well-being in so many different ways.
Many we’re just beginning to uncover!
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Aphantasia is pretty interesting, especially when you have it, and I wanted to share that.
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