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AMA with Dr Adam Zeman

The neurologist who coined "aphantasia", "hyperphantasia", and "extreme imagination".

Aphantasia and Hyperphantasia Ask Me Anything

The first Aphantasia and Hyperphantasia AMA with Dr Adam Zeman, broadcasted live on Friday, May 21, 2021. Dr. Adam Zeman  is the Professor of Cognitive and Behavioural Neurology at the University of Exeter (UK), founder of the Extreme Imagination Conference, and leads The Eye’s Mind research project, which “unites researchers and disciplines in order to study our distinctively human ability to imagine, highlight links between our experience, brain science and art, and shed light on the wide variation in our capacity to ‘visualise’.” Professor Zeman first coined the term aphantasia to describe the inability to visualize back in 2015 and is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on imagery extremes.

Is Aphantasia genetic?

After publishing his research of Patient MX, who came to him after losing his ability to visualize, Zeman began receiving emails from people saying they’ve been without a ‘mind’s eye’ since birth. This led to his landmark study, Lives without imagery – congenital aphantasia, where Zeman first coined the term aphantasia. In 2020, Zeman published a study, Phantasia–The psychological significance of lifelong visual imagery vividness extremes, that found that participants with aphantasia were ten times as likely to have a first-degree relative with aphantasia than those in the control group. His team posits there are likely multiple genetic correlations, and are searching for genes possibly linked to congenital aphantasia.

Are there any behavioral differences in aphantasia or hyperphantasia?

As interest in aphantasia grew, Zeman began hearing from individuals reporting they had an extremely vivid imagination. This led to him coining the term ‘hyperphantasia’, as well as ‘extreme imagination’ to encapsulate both imagery extremes. Zeman explains that while there is some early evidence of related behavioral tendencies, such as aphantasics more frequently working in STEM while hyperphantasics more often work in the arts, visualization is but one small aspect of our psychological makeup. Aphantasia does not imply a lack of imagination. Hyperphantasia does not imply a lack of logic. In fact, researchers have yet to discover any definitive associations with either extreme of the imagination spectrum.


1:04 How Dr. Zeman discovered Aphantasia

3:25 What is Hyperphantasia?

6:00 How is the brain different with Aphantasia?

10:40 Is Aphantasia hereditary?

12:55 Am I less triggered to traumatic memories due to Aphantasia?

14:54 Impact on eyewitness testimonies

17:38 How PTSD presents and how it could be treated?

19:26 Can it be caused by emotional trauma?

21:24 Have you researched anyone who’ve been able to regain visual imagination?

23:49 Are there medical conditions that make it more likely to have Aphantasia?

26:16 Can Aphantasics be hypnotized?

27:05 Connections between Aphantasia and SDAM

29:57 How prevalent is Aphantasia in ADHD and Autism?

32:44 Connections to early-onset Alzheimer’s and/or Dementia

34:08 Behavioral differences in Aphantasia or Hyperphantasia

39:11 Are there demographic differences in the prevalence of Aphantasia?

40:47 Has anything been done on gender or culture differences with Aphantasia?

43:40 How do we tell the difference between normal Phantasia and Hyperphantasia

46:25 Advantages/disadvantages of knowing you have Aphantasia

50:56 In Aphantasics, is there any activity in the visual cortex when presented with a visual cue?

55:58 Causes for lack of the other senses like touch, taste, and sound in the brain


Thanks to Roman Christie (RomanMines64) for the courtesy of voluntarily sharing these Timestamps in the YouTube comments!

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