140 Ian swimmer 1949

Ian Miller

Abstract impressionist

Posted byIan Miller

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.

Posted byIan Miller

I’m an engineer/scientist, and I have always been driven to try to understand how things work, and to use that understanding to solve real-world problems.  I build mental models of almost everything that I work on, they are often spatial models, but they don’t involve visual images.  Frequently the models involve equations, but again in an abstract way: just wordless mental models of mathematical relationships.  Quite often the models involve both space and time, imagining how a complex system would evolve.

I spend of lot of time working on those mental models, criticizing and improving them.  While I’m doing this I generally don’t think in words- I just ponder and twist the mental models, and try to tie together all of their loose ends.  Only when a non-visual, non-verbal mental model becomes really coherent do I start trying to describe it in words or with pictures and equations.  Words and equations and visual images are essential for communication, but they really slow down your thinking.

So I wonder whether my “averbality” is universal, or whether it is perhaps associated with aphantasia.  Do other aphantasics also go averbal sometimes, while normal people’s conscious inner thoughts are nearly always expressed in language?