Drawing from memory

I have been conducting my own ‘research’ and seem to have stumbled on something. I would have thought that if people can really see with their mind eye they would be able to draw from memory. A simple test of of asking someone to draw a bicycle quickly shows that this ability does not translate so easily into the page. However, I and other people i suspect as having this condition seem to do much better. Why is this? Perhaps you could try for yourselves?

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i have Aphantasia and my picture of a bike would be conceptual. two wheels and a frame, very much stick person. so i think you are probably on the wrong track. now if you asked people to draw a picture of their own bike you might see a difference. in my case it would be almost the same.



Drawing a bike is much more difficult than you would imagine (!) the frame is different to what people would expect even though it is something we see everyday.

Thanks Jennifer – I will check this out

Spot on Mark. That’s exactly what I do

I can also only draw an abstract diagram of a bicycle. I know why: I see hundreds of separate lines – small and large, which take a long time to draw, but do not converge; because the image and the abstract scheme of a bicycle are not the same thing. Maybe I could be an architect…

I wonder if “sighted” people draw what they see although that is impossible for me to imagine? I have to construct the bicycle bit by bit – wheel, spokes, tyres, derailleur if its geared (of course now I’ll need to do a cage and the jockey wheels), cassette, chain oh forgot the brakes etc.

I expect I would be able to get the details right because I construct it from a list of parts? 

Hey James, great question! Wilma Bainbridge offers an interesting perspective on how we can use drawings to uncover what’s inside the memory of people with aphantasia in this research presentation here.

When I see a question in an Aphantasic questionnaire it makes me laugh internally because the poor Phantasics probably have to visually see a real horse or video) before they can draw it. What comes to my mind when I an asked such a question is not an image of a particular horse, in fact I don’t see any images at all, but what I get is a sort of database of related instantly-recallable facts such as: a horse is an animal, an equine animal, it has 4 legs and a tail, it was used as a ‘power source’ in earlier time, but nowadays is mostly used for sport or recreation, etc etc, some particular horses, especially race horses had names, which might be remembered etc etc. From the data I could improvise a generic picture of a horse, but it would no be a specific horse. So asking me that question would be a waste of time and would no doubt be misinterpreted by a Phantasic researcher.

Other responders in here have described the creation of a drawing, bit by bit, function by function; that’s exactly what I would do, even in drawing something simple like a house.