The genetic basis of aphantasia

It strikes me that the amazing/wonderful variety of cognitive processes that we seem to experience are of enormous value.  If a group of early humans had that sort of variety of cognition its prospects for survival would have been greatly enhanced: whatever the challenge, some of them would have the solution.  I’ll go so far as to speculate that the emergence of the aphantasic-to-hyperphantasic spectrum may be why homo sapiens is still around, and homo neanerthalensis isn’t.

It would be interesting to see some research into genetic markers for variants in the spectrum, and to look for those markers in other species.

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As recently as 2020, the only thing known about a genetic basis for aphantasia is that it runs in families more often than would be expected by chance (Zeman et al., 2020). So there probably are genetic markers, they’re just totally unknown so far. Let’s hope someone researches it soon!

on June 17, 2021

Have you ever read this theory about language evolution, it’s a wonderful read and speaks to the potential impact slight variations in cognitive processes could have. I do tend to think these variations in imagery abilities are evolutionarily fit divergences, there are obvious collective advantages in diversity. And there is definitely scientific interest into this question of genetics, it’s only a matter of time before we have some more conclusive answers. But as Shannon mentioned, the current data does suggest the possibility of a genetic component – aphantasics in that study were shown to be 10x as likely to have a 1st degree relative with aphantasia.

My Father,  Two Brothers,  Both sons, and 3 nephews have Aphantasia.   I can confirm it is genetic.