Visual or all senses?
Posted byTom Ebeyer

Aphantasia isn’t limited to just visual imagination, it can impact all sensory imagery in the mind.

For example, when most people go to the restaurant and they see something on the menu they enjoy, they can (kind of) smell and taste it. Or if you think of your favourite song, you can hear the sounds of the instrument in your mind. Think of ‘famous words’ one of your parents or teachers said to you growing up, can you hear these words in their voice?

A study on the cognitive profile of people with aphantasia was conducted by the UNSW Future Minds Lab and found that the majority of aphantasics report decreased imagery in all other sensory domains – sound, smell, taste – although not all will experience a complete lack of multi-sensory imagery.

Imagination is a spectrum across all sensory experiences. What’s your imaginative experience like? Visual or all senses?

Discussion Answer #28688
  1. Only visual for me, although other senses are not equally strong. I can “feel” very well and also “hear” good with some concentration, but “smell” is definitely hard as well.
Discussion Answer #28623

Hello, a am a 52 year old woman, and I have total aphantasia (probably not aphantasia but more like hypo-hypo-phantasia, as I can sometime conjure up images like ghosts or shadows of what I’m thinking about). It was no big deal for me at all as I thought everyone was like me, though it does finally explain an old fascination on mine about how the heck anyone could possibly do an identikit in police films!!! I wondered for years whether I might be on the autistic spectrum or have a personality disorder, because I just don’t feel things as strongly as others, but I guess this actually explains it rather well: if I can’t remember what my dog looked like, or the emotions that I felt when I was with him, it will just be that much easier to get over him when he passes. Funny fact: I have tinnitus, but I don’t mind it at all, which always fascinates people as it’s supposed to be so irritating: I guess it’s just because there is now finally something to fill out my empty head!


Discussion Answer #28621

For me it is all senses. I have never had an inner voice. I’ve never smelled in my mind or any of what is being described here.

Discussion Answer #28596

When a reviewer recently described my latest novel as “visceral,” I think they nailed it. My imagination is exactly that–a whole-body experiential feeling. I’ve always had a sketchy memory. Details of events and experiences fade quickly, but the feeling it produced lingers. I’m not talking about emotions. Emotions are a different quality of feeling. When I was in grad school, a friend and I were experimenting with ESP (okay, and mushrooms) and she was looking at cards, trying to communicate the figure depicted on a card to me. I apologized, indicating that I was seeing nothing. And then she noticed that I was moving my hands in patterns that replicated the images on the cards. So…what do you think all this has to do with aphantasia?

Discussion Answer (Father) #26506

My aphantasia covers all senses which is why I long suspected I had a  more restricted internal life than many others, as I could not relate to their experiences. For decades I assumed the mind’s eye was fictional and not a real attribute. I guess my restricted viewpoint made the obvious choice for me was to study science and maths and avoid all literary subjects. I suspect many with  aphantasia will be engineers like me.

Discussion Answer (Father) #26314

Mostly visual for me.