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Do you have a physical imagination?

Aimee Seaver asked 1 year ago
1208 views 4 comments

There’s a wide range of ways we can have aphantasia. Some people have total aphantasia, no visual, auditory, olfactory, or motor imagery, and some of us have partial aphantasia (one or two of these senses but still no visual).

I have a physical imagination and I can hear my own voice in my head (though no other sounds).

For me, I can imagine what it’s like to be an object or creature. I can imagine what a texture would feel like if I were to touch it. Lastly, and most strongly, I can imagine moving my body in various ways. Like a particular dance move or a stretch.

Anyone else have a physical imagination? How does it work for you?

Rachel C October 12, 2019 06:04 pm

I know exactly what you’re talking about Aimee. I took dance lessons growing up as well, and a “physical” imagination was all I had to remember what we were doing. I could never visualize what the dance moves were, I just knew what they felt like in my head and body, and that’s how I rememebred them. I rely on physical memory a decent amount, but mostly for dance. I don’t do it anymore now because of school, but when I realized I had aphantasia almost a year ago, I realized a physical memory wasn’t “normal” for others.

When I write, sometimes instead of visualizing what characters are doing, I will ‘use’ my body instead. Like instead of visualizing a character vaulting over a fence, I’d use my own muscles to try to imitate that feeling to get a sense of what is going on in that scene.

Laura Flanigan October 14, 2019 02:48 am

I lack visual, smell and taste visualization completely, but I have sound and feel. I can hear my voice as if I’m reading to myself, as well as play music in my mind. I can imagine physical feelings, such at the feel of an orange peel. The interesting thing is that I associate colours with a physical “feeling”. Not an emotional feeling, but a physical feeling not dissimilar to thinking of the feel of an object. I also associate people I know well with the feeling of certain colours (again not an emotional connection, but a physical “feeling”), and I feel pain in a range of blue to red. Not sure if everyone associates "physical feelings" this way, but that’s how it is for me!

Jennifer McDougall Staff October 14, 2019 06:51 pm

I am really enjoying this thread and where this conversation is going. Thanks for your contributions everyone!
I think the technical term for this is motor imagery, which involves imagining the physical movement without actually performing the physcial movement or tensing the muscles. It can be defined as a "dynamic state during which an individual mentally simulates a given action. This type of phenomenal experience implies that the subject feels themselves performing the action."
Apprently this type of motor-learning is often used in training athletes, as this "imagined behaviour" can actually produce similar effects on cognition and behavior as physically practising the movements in the present can. Super fascinating!
Does this accurately describe your experiences above?

Micktaa November 05, 2020 11:14 am

I know this thread is old but it is super interesting. I have physical imagination, exactly as motor imagery that Jennifer has described. I also have auditory imagination but I think the ability may be below average if not simply different. It has not affected my musical ability and I seem to be to imagine and replicate sounds better than some others (of course for comparisons there are people better than me too.). I remember explaining how I could memorize a tone to approximately how it sounds and my classmate said she could not. Also I was not aware of this ability until I wondered if it was possible to memorize a sound like a fact. It required repetition but I got it. And my whole life I’ve had moments where songs are stuck in my head. I recall song all the time when people mention memorable phrases from the songs (I think this is normal for most people)
I think I can vaguely imagine the feeling of certain textures too.
Most interestingly, I cannot imagine taste HOWEVER, I can get the physical reaction (by imagination or in reality) by trying to recall a taste. Like for bittermelon, my tongue will pull back a bit and a feel a movement in my throat area behind my chin. For sour I will pucker my lips when I imagine it. For sweet an area of my tongue will relax and parts of the sides will curl up. I didn’t notice all these things until I tried them just now to test if I had olfactory imagination. And if you ask me if I tasted sour, sweet, or bitter, I’d tell you no, I only got the body reaction. I sense my saliva and dry throat and that’s the closest I have to any taste at this moment.

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