The power of image-free thinking
Aphantasia Network is shaping a new, global conversation on the power of image-free thinking. We’re creating a place to discover and learn about aphantasia, to help build a bridge between new scientific discoveries and our unique human experience — and uncover new insight into how we learn, create, dream and remember with blind imagination.
Our founder, Tom Ebeyer was among the first 21 reported cases of ‘congenital aphantasia’ mentioned in the original scientific paper by Dr. Adam Zeman in 2015. The paper was picked up by media outlets, including the New York Times, which led to an outpouring of new discoverers who also identified with having aphantasia.
Tom quickly realized there was no available support or information for people with a ‘blind mind’s eye,’ so he began building the foundations for a Network. Tom’s story was picked up by CBC’s Doc Project in 2019, and the episode Think of a Horse aired several times across Canada on CBC Radio.
In January of 2019, interest in extreme imagination, aphantasia and it’s opposite hyperphantasia, or extremely vivid mental imagery, grew considerably when Ed Catmull, founder and former CEO of Pixar with Steve Jobs, was profiled on BBC News as also being ‘blind in the mind’s eye’.
In a surprising survey of Ed’s former employees, Catmull discovered so too do some of the world’s best Disney animators like Glen Keane, the creator of The Little Mermaid. Since the discovery of aphantasia, media attention has been growing steadily including receiving a mention in the Netflix original series, Space Force with Steve Carell. Dr. Zeman’s original paper now scores in the top 5% of all research interests on Altmetric.
It became apparent to co-founders of the Network, Tom and Jennie that people across the spectrum of imagination needed a place to discover and learn about this unique variation in human experience. The pair began building Aphantasia Network in Sept 2019.
Since launch, the Network has grown beyond their imagination. Even if Tom could picture it! Aphantasia Network is now the #1 place for discovering aphantasia, or image-free thinking, a variation in human experience impacting more than 3% of people worldwide.
Jennie is the co-founder of the Aphantasia Network. Jennie helps develop a strong sense of community around aphantasia through compassionate support across the Network’s diverse stakeholders.
Emma is an aphantasic Graphic Design student at Oklahoma State University studying toward her bachelors degree. She is passionate about art and design as well as her discovery of aphantasia. She is joining the team as a volunteer designer to assist in all things graphic while also learning more about aphantasia along the way.
Liana is a semi-retired writer on a journey of self-discovery. She recently discovered she has aphantasia. Despite her lifelong inability to visualize – or perhaps because of it – Liana has learned to adapt, bending her capabilities in imaginative ways to service her creativity.
Dr. Joel Pearson
Joel is the founder and director of the UNSW Future Minds Lab. A hands on empirical lab that develops new methods to scientifically study all related aspects of innovation using Psychology and Neuroscience. Joel studies the mechanisms and application of mental imagery, by using behavioural, human brain imaging and brain stimulation techniques.