Aphantasia Research

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Aphantasia: The People Without a Mind's Eye | 'Out of Mind'

Anna Donohue et al. in Wired UK
Alex Wheeler shares the story of how his experiences with aphantasia have affected his life, particularly his grieving process after losing his mum, as he seeks answers from Adam Zeman, Professor of Cognitive and Behavioural Neurology at the University of Exeter Medical School.
Digital magazine

When the mind is dark, making art is a thrilling way to see

Adam Zeman in Psyche
Aphantasia might sometimes increase rather than reduce interest in the visual world. People with aphantasia see perfectly well and can have an eye for beauty. In fact, deprived of the ability to contemplate the look of things in their mind’s eye, their visual attention to the here and now might be heightened, says Dr. Adam Zeman.
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.
Digital magazine

I have no mind’s eye: let me try to describe it for you

Neesa Sunar in Psyche
Understanding my aphantasia allows me to devise ways to adjust my perceptions, so that I can compensate for my lack. As with any sort of neuroatypicality, awareness is needed. With awareness comes understanding and empathy.
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.
Journal article

A cognitive profile of multi-sensory imagery, memory and dreaming in aphantasia

Alexei J. Dawes, Rebecca Keogh, Thomas Andrillon, Joel Pearson in natureresearch
Study finds that aphantasic individuals report decreased imagery in other sensory domains, although not all report a complete lack of multi-sensory imagery. They also report less vivid and phenomenologically rich autobiographical memories and imagined future scenarios, as well as fewer dreams.
Journal article

Cortical excitability controls the strength of mental imagery

Rebecca Keogh, Johanna Bergmann, Joel Pearson in eLife
The strength of a person’s mental imagery is linked to the excitability of different brain regions. Exactly how this network controls the strength of visual imagery remains unknown.
News article

Being unable to visualise mental images gives you an advantage when working in science, study suggests

Telegraph Reporters in The Telegraph
People who are unable to visualize mental images may have an advantage when working in scientific and mathematical industries, a study led by the University of Exeter (n=2200) shows. The phenomenon is the opposite of hyperphantasia which has been shown to be more common in creative professions.
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