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Blind Minds Eye – The Science of Visual Imagery Extremes

Dr. Adam Zeman tells the rediscovery story of aphantasia

Rediscovery Story of Aphantasia

Dr. Adam Zeman tells the story of the rediscovery of aphantasia and the research that has ensued, placing these in the context of our understanding of imagery more broadly, and identifies some key unanswered questions.

What do we currently know about the aphantasic experience?

Although the existence of people with a “blind minds eye” was recognised in the 19th century, the phenomenon lacked a name or sustained scientific study until 2015. The naming of ‘aphantasia’ proved to be pivotal, leading to intense public interest, and a wave of recent research. This suggests that imagery extremes – aphantasia and its converse, hyperphantasia – have contrasting occupational, cognitive, behavioural and neurophysiological characteristics, run in families, and are heterogenous.

What is the Extreme Imagination conference?

Extreme Imagination conference and exhibition is a gathering of the world’s foremost thinkers, scientists and creatives challenging long-held beliefs about what it means to imagine and create. The first event was brought to life by Dr. Adam Zeman and the Eye’s Mind team at the University of Exeter in 2019. By spotlighting new discoveries into imagery extremes, aphantasia and hyperphantasia and bringing together leading thinkers, scientists and creatives, we can leverage our collective knowledge and experiences to seed new insight and unlock unknown human potential. This recording is from the 2021 Extreme Imagination conference, hosted by the Aphantasia Network.

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