Aphantasia Research

Evolving library of aphantasia research. Explore imagery extremes, aphantasia and hyperphantasia. Share some of the latest knowledge. 

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Journal article

Aphantasia and the Language of Imagination: A Wittgensteinian Exploration

Mélissa Fox-Muraton in Central and Eastern European Online Library
This paper aims to address the scepticism surrounding aphantasia, the challenges in communicating about mental imagery, and the research methods used in cognitive sciences today through the lens of Wittgenstein’s philosophy. The paper argues that 1) communicating about mental imagery involves language games that persons with aphantasia may not be able to play (i.e., makes reference to expressions and concepts that are meaningless for them, such as ‘visualise,’ ‘form an image,’ etc.); 2) that as a consequence aphantasia, in present research, is only describable negatively (as lack or incapacity); 3) that rather than a cognitive or a psychological issue, aphantasia should be understood as a grammatical one; and 4) that we need to invent new language games in order to come to a better understanding of conditions such as aphantasia, and to be able to appreciate the rich diversity and variability of human experience.
Journal article

Anauralia: The Silent Mind and Its Association With Aphantasia

Rish P. Hinwar and Anthony J. Lambert in Frontiers in Psychology
Most self-reported aphantasics also reported weak or entirely absent auditory imagery; and participants lacking auditory imagery tended to be aphantasic. Similarly, vivid visual imagery tended to co-occur with vivid auditory imagery. Auditory representations and auditory imagery are thought to play a key role in a wide range of psychological domains, including working memory and memory rehearsal, prospective cognition, thinking, reading, planning, problem-solving, self-regulation, and music. Therefore, self-reports describing an absence of auditory imagery raise a host of important questions concerning the role of phenomenal auditory imagery in these domains.
Journal article

The eyes have it: The pupillary light response as a physiological index of aphantasia, sensory and phenomenological imagery strength

Lachlan Kay, Rebecca Keogh, Thomas Andrillion, Joel Pearson in bioRxiv
Recent work has shown that the pupil will adjust in response to illusory brightness. This study shows that the imagery pupillary light response correlates with objective measures of sensory imagery strength. It also demonstrates that there was no evidence for an imagery pupillary light response in a group of individuals without visual imagery (aphantasia). The first physiological validation of aphantasia.
Journal article

I cannot picture it in my mind: acquired aphantasia after autologous stem cell transplantation for multiple myeloma

Adam L Bumgardner, Kyle Yuan, Alden V Chiu in National Library of Medicine
Aphantasia, the loss of mental imagery, is a rare disorder and even more infrequent when acquired. No previous cases have been identified that were caused by transplant-related treatment. We describe a case of acquired aphantasia in a 62-year-old male with refractory IgG kappa multiple myeloma after receiving an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) following high-dose melphalan with a complicated hospital admission.
Journal article

Behavioral and neural signatures of visual imagery vividness extremes: Aphantasia vs. Hyperphantasia

Fraser Milton, Jon Fulford, Carla Dance et al in Oxford Academic
First systematic, wide-ranging neuropsychological and brain imaging study of people with aphantasia (n=24), hyperphantasia (n=25) and mid-range imagery vividness (n=20). These behavioral and neural signatures of visual imagery vividness extremes validate and illuminate this significant but neglected dimension of individual difference.
Journal article

Imagine, and you will find – Lack of attentional guidance through visual imagery in aphantasics

Merlin Monzel, Kristof Keidel & Martin Reuter in SpringerLink
New study finds visual imagery directly influences how we process information and is not simply a byproduct of cognitive priming. Revealing new evidence in the imagery debate.
Journal article

Aphantasia: The science of visual imagery extremes

Rebecca Keogh, Joel Pearson, Adam Zeman in ScienceDirect
A large network of brain activity spanning frontal, parietal, temporal, and visual cortex is involved in generating and maintain images in mind. The anatomy and functionality of visual cortex, including primary visual cortex, have been associated with individual differences in visual imagery ability, pointing to a potential correlate for both aphantasia and hyperphantasia.
Journal article

The critical role of mental imagery in human emotion: insights from fear-based imagery and aphantasia

Dr Rebecca Keogh, Joel Pearson in Proceedings of the Royal Society B
People with aphantasia – that is, the inability to visualise mental images – are harder to spook with scary stories, a new UNSW Sydney study shows. According to the findings, scary stories lost their fear factor when the readers couldn’t visually imagine the scene – suggesting imagery may have a closer link to emotions than scientists previously thought.
Journal article

Aphantasia, imagination and dreaming

Cecily M. K. Whiteley in Springer
The majority of aphantasics retain the capacity to experience rich visual dreams, despite being unable to produce visual imagery while awake. Aphantasia raises important theoretical concerns for the ongoing debate in the philosophy and science of consciousness over the nature of dreams.
Journal article

The Ganzflicker Experience: Rhythmic visual flicker induces complex illusions in people with visual imagery but not aphantasia

Varg Königsmark, Johanna Bergmann, Reshanne Reeder in PsyArXiv
Rhythmic visual flicker is known to induce illusions and altered states of consciousness. Study finds people with visual imagery were more susceptible to flicker-induced illusions (FII) than people with aphantasia.
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