Aphantasia and memory
I’ve just learned that there is a name for my inability to form a visual picture in my head, and am learning about the full impact of what that means regarding all of my senses. I haven’t read any mention of aphantasia affecting one’s ability to remember how to do things if you haven’t done them in a while. For example, in my job, there are tasks that I don’t do every day but maybe biweekly, and if I don’t look at my notes for a reminder I don’t remember the details, just the general idea. I definitely don’t remember past events in any kind of detail, and lots of times not even the event itself. Does this sound familiar? Do you experience challenges remembering past events and factual information about yourself?
My memory seems about average. I learn and remember best by doing the thing. If I’ve done something a few times then it’s easy to remember, feels like it gets put in a permanent storage place in my brain. I can remember visual details of things if I put purposeful effort into it. The details are kept in a list of attributes like “Red shirt, short sleeves, fits loose” and such.
I do have trouble recognizing people, it’s not face blindness… it’s just hard to remember someone unelss we had a particularly interesting conversation or dance (I go tango dancing a lot) or they happen to have a really really unique appearence that’s easy to log in words in my head.
Remembering first person events in my life tends to take the shape of words spoken + words describing the event, what I was feeling emotionally (if anything), and sometimes physical memory (I have a physical sense in my memory/imagination instead of visual, so not full aphantasia)
This is a very interesting question. There is some early evidence that suggests aphantasia might be linked to another phenomenon known as Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory, or SDAM for short. Autobiographical memory is defined as both the recollection of personal past events (i.e. special events from your past) and factual knowledge about oneself (i.e. your favourite food as a kid). People with SDAM have reported an ability to remember details about an event (because they’ve either seen a photo or deliberately learnt a story about what happened) but they cannot "picture" being there. This means that while they cannot experience the nostalgia of ‘reliving the best times in life,’ the upside is that they can’t recall the pain associated with the bad things either. This makes them far less likely to hold grudges as they can’t conjure up the emotion that made them feel bad in the first place. Pretty neat! Wish I was this way… Some aphants have reported having both conditions present. You can read more about Susie McKinnon’s experience here.
Does this experience sound familiar? What’s your memory like?
I have an exceptionally good memory, especially for text and conversation. I can remember vivid emotional and verbal details of past events, especailly if I’m in the same location again.
I don’t have a strong experience of nostalgia – but then I don’t have a lot of good past to miss!
I was worried about my memory well before I found out I was Aphantasiac.
I’d put my name down for a university study to get trhings checked out.
The waiting list was long.
I then had my epiphany and realised that I wasn’t visualising.
I wondereded if this was connected too.
I recently got the call and spent 4 gruelling sessions getting tested.
Some things were easy, some nigh on impossible.
I got the results back on Tuesday and found to my surprise that I’m rather bright ( top 98percentile)and top 99.5 percentile for a couple of task types) and my memory was above average, but not as good ( 77percentile and 82 percentile) for the two types of memory tested.
So I don’t have early onset dementia, but the things that worried my might be explained, I was told, by trauma, stress, andopiod pain killers.
So no link between lost time, missing memories and Aphantasia for me.
Maybe you could contact your local universities and see if they can check you out too?
Might give you a deeper insight.