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Our mission is to unleash the power of image-free thinking.

Aphantasia Network is creating a place to discover and learn about aphantasia. Thousands of curious discoverers join our community to better understand their invisible difference and how aphantasia can impact our life, work and well-being.

“One of the original 21 people with aphantasia who were studied by Dr. Zeman, Thomas Ebeyer of Kitchener, Ontario, created a website called the Aphantasia Network that has grown into a hub for people with the condition and for researchers studying them.”

NYT

“I remember feeling confused, I remember feeling extremely frustrated with the 500 blogs about how you could just meditate and you can visualize,” remembered Ebeyer, “and it would just drive me crazy… what are you talking about? After Ebeyer discovered this about himself, he talked to anyone who would listen, and realized that his differences extend further than the mind’s eye. All of the senses are involved.”

CBC

“Ebeyer first realized that other people could mentally visualize at college, when he was around 20 years old. But many people who have aphantasia still don’t know it. “They aren’t aware that their friends and family are visualizing,”  Ebeyer said.

VICE

What is Aphantasia?

Aphantasia is the inability to visualize. Otherwise known as image-free thinking.

People with aphantasia don’t create any pictures of familiar objects, people, or places in their mind’s eye. Not for thoughts, memories, or images of the future.

We lack this quasi-perceptual “picture-it” system completely.

Aphantasia Network is creating a place to discover and learn about aphantasia. Our mission is to improve the lives of people with aphantasia through research, advocacy and support to unleash the power of image-free thinking. Thousands of curious discoverers join our community to better understand their invisible difference and how aphantasia can impact our life, work and well-being. We are a global community of image-free thinkers and those curious about aphantasia.

About Aphantasia

Think of a horse. Does some kind of image of a horse come to mind?

Try comparing the image of a horse in your head with how you know it looks in real life. Is the image you imagine equally vivid to its real-world counterpart, a little less vivid, somewhat vivid, not very vivid at all, or completely absent?

If you cannot conjure even the faintest image of a horse in your mind then it’s likely you may experience aphantasia.

You can also take the VVIQ, the go-to psychometric for identifying aphantasia.

It’s no secret that our conscious thoughts are private, and evaluating the vividness of our own internally generated experiences can be challenging. On the one hand, it can be challenging to determine the precise details of the mental images in our mind’s eye and even sometimes tell whether we have formed a mental picture at all.

But, as it turns out, you may know your thoughts better than you think you do! Research has provided a growing body of behavioural and neuroimaging evidence suggesting we have a pretty good metacognitive understanding of our mental imagery capabilities.

You can read more about evaluating your mind’s eye here.

People have taken objective tests in a lab like measuring pupil response when asked to imagine a beam of light, fear-based responses using skin-conductance levels (SCL) when presented with scary stories, among other notable research experiments.

Researchers have observed that people who report vivid imagery have very different physiological and behavioural responses to these tests than people with aphantasia.

Although this doesn’t let us know definitively that they’re vividly seeing an image, it all points to the fact that something is truly different between people who claim to see vividly and those who don’t.

We can also observe in neuro-imaging studies an activation in the visual cortex, the area of the brain that processes images from the eyes, which further suggests actual visualization.

You can find interesting science articlesand access some of the latest research.

Aphantasia impacts our inner sense of sight, and can impact other senses in your imagination.

If you think of your favorite meal, can you almost smell or taste it? These dimensions of our sensory imagination are called olfactory and gustatory imagery.

Some people with aphantasia cannot hear sounds, imagine smells, tastes, movements or touch using their imagination. Current estimates are that ~26% of aphantasics experience multisensory, or “total aphantasia.”

Our dedicated team at the Aphantasia Network has developed the world’s first discovery platform for imagination! We’re collaborating with world-leading scientists and experts in imagination science to develop new digital assessments and experiments to help quantify, synthesize and personalize data so that your results, are unique to you. A place where you can continue to explore the vast universe that is, your imagination. We’re calling it Imagination Spectrum. Join our new discovery platform today, and receive $50 off our EarlyBird Special. Limited time offer.

No, it does not. While this may seem puzzling at first glance, on reflection, imagination is a much richer and more complex capacity than the ability to visualize.

Visualization enables most of us to picture things to some degree in our mind’s eye: imagination allows us to represent, reshape and reconceive things in their absence.  

Aphantasia illustrates the wide variety of types of ‘representation’ available to human minds and brains: visual imagery is by no means the only option.

Absolutely! Aphantasics can still be creative, we just go about the creative process, differently

In fact, many aphantasics are brilliant creatives, inventors, authors, musicians, scientists, entrepreneurs and more. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and former president of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Craig Venter, the biologist who first sequenced the Human Genome. Blake Ross, creator of Mozilla Firefox. Glen Keane, Disney Animator and Creator of The Little Mermaid. Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller. The artists and authors who exhibited at Extreme Imagination. All have aphantasia. 

Check out these articles on how to write, draw and create art with aphantasia.

Aphantasia is not a disability, disorder, nor defect. It is a variation in human experience, and an intriguing one. People with aphantasia, however, will experience a unique set of cognitive strengths and challenges associated with the condition. How we learn, create, dream, remember and more may be impacted by our experience of aphantasia.

Current estimates are between 1-5% of the global population have aphantasia. An estimated 10-13% experience the opposite phenomenon, hyperphantasia. This range varies by core definition and sampling methodology.

The opposite of aphantasia is known as hyperphantasia, or extremely vivid sensory imagination. For someone with hyperphantasia, visualizing can be as vivid as real seeing.

Aphantasia was first given a name in 2015, but knowledge of our invisible differences can be found dating back to 340 BC. Aristotle stands at the beginning of this history when aphantasia was not an established topic of discussion yet.

Aristotle coins the term phantasia in De Amina (On the Soul), Part III to describe a distinct capacity between perception and thought — a sort of ‘sixth sense.’

Phantasia is commonly translated to imagination, or as Aristotle describes “that in virtue of which an image occurs in us”— in thoughts, dreams, and memories. His account of phantasia includes mental imagery, dreams, and even hallucinations.

During this period, however, it was generally believed that thoughts required images. That is, “whenever one contemplates, one necessarily at the same time contemplates in images” (De Anima Part III 8).

Aphantasia, or image-free thinking, is proof Aristotle may have been wrong about that.

Fast forward to 2009, Dr. Adam Zeman a neurologist from Exeter University receives a patient who can no longer imagine — known affectionately among the aphantasia community as patient MX.

Patient MX goes blind in his mind’s eye after undergoing surgery. News of patient MX’s experience attracted media attention which led to many new discoverers who could relate to a similar experience, only they had been “blind in their mind’s eye” since birth. Zeman coins the term aphantasia to describe the inability to visualize in 2015. The “a” in a-phantasia denotes its absence.

Read more about aphantasia history.

Aphantasia is both a congential and developmental condition. The majority of people have aphantasia since birth, sometimes referred to as “lifelong aphantasia.” Rarely can it result from a stroke or head injury. It may also occur as a result of an episode of depression. For more information about probable cause of aphantasia, check out these shocking insights.

Researchers do have evidence that aphantasia is hereditary. If you have aphantasia, then it’s likely your first-degree relatives may also have aphantasia. Indicating a possible genetic or hereditary link. Watch this video with Dr. Adam Zeman.

For most, aphantasia is a congenital condition. Meaning, from birth. It is, however, occasionally a symptom of other disorders. For example, aphantasia can, rarely, result from a stroke, head injury or an episode of depression. So if someone who has previously had imagery loses it suddenly, it’s reasonable to ask and attempt to learn why. Here’s a resource on therapy and aphantasia.

For those with congenital aphantasia, there is no known “cure”. Some people with acquired aphantasia, however, have described experiences of regaining imagery abilities through various kinds of interventions. Important to note, aphantasia is not a disability but rather a unique variation in human experience. Many people with congenital aphantasia don’t want “a cure”.

There’s been research into aphantasia spanning many disciples from neuroscience to psychology, cognitive science, and more. And interest is growing! The original scientific paper coining the term aphantasia scores in the top percentile of new research interest on Altmetric. Check out our research library for all the latest aphantasia research

About Aphantasia Network

Our founder, Tom Ebeyer was among the first 21 reported cases of ‘congenital aphantasia mentioned in the original scientific paper by Dr. Adam Zeman in 2015.

The naming of ‘aphantasia’ proved to be pivotal, leading to intense public interest, and a wave of recent research. The paper was picked up by various media outlets, including the New York Times, which led to an outpouring of new discoverers who also identified as having aphantasia.

Tom quickly realized there was no available community support or information for people with ‘blind imagination,’ so he began building the foundations for a global Network. Tom’s story was picked up by CBC’s Doc Project in 2019, and the episode Think of a Horse aired several times across Canada on CBC Radio.

In January of 2019, interest in aphantasia grew considerably when Ed Catmull, founder and former CEO of Pixar with Steve Jobs, was profiled on BBC News as also being ‘blind in the mind’s eye’. In a surprising survey of Ed’s former employees, Catmull discovered so too do some of the world’s best Disney animators like Glen Keane, the creator of The Little Mermaid.

Since the discovery of aphantasia, media attention has been growing steadily including receiving a mention in the Netflix original series, Space Force with Steve Carell.  Dr. Zeman’s original paper also scores in the top 5% of all new research interests on Altmetric.

It became apparent to the co-founders of the Aphantasia Network, Tom and Jennie that people across the spectrum of imagination needed a place to share stories, ask questions and connect with others. The pair began building Aphantasia Network in September 2019.

Since its inception, the Network has grown beyond their imagination. Even if Tom could picture it! Aphantasia Network is now the #1 place to discover and learn about aphantasia, or image-free thinking, a variation in human experience impacting more than 3% of people worldwide.

When you join Aphantasia Network, you support an organization working to make your life better. We bring you the latest on congenital aphantasia, live events, 24/7 access to our private Discord community with mobile app (for when you just need to talk to someone) and more! And it’s all at a very affordable membership fee. Join a community of image-free thinkers and those curious about aphantasia.

✅ Join a global community of image-free thinkers and those curious about aphantasia.

✅ Connect with others in the aphantasia community through our 24/7 Discord text/chat app.

✅ Find aphantasics near you and communicate across languages.

✅ Get your questions answered by the experts during our Ask Me Anything events.

✅ Attend regular member meetups in our virtual community space.

✅ Join us live for Presentations on new research and discoveries.

✅ Get first access to new content and media.

✅ Participate in new research exploring imagery extremes, aphantasia and hyperphantasia.

✅ Receive discounts on merch and other membership perks.

✅ Enjoy ad-free browsing experience on aphantasia.com.

Support the development of Aphantasia Network financially.

Aphantasia Network is NOT a venture-funded startup. It’s 100% bootstrapped! Until now, it’s been a labour of love and funded entirely by our two Founders.

That means we don’t have any external funding. In fact, even funding for aphantasia research is difficult to find. This is likely because aphantasia awareness is still in its infancy.

In order for the Aphantasia Network to survive and remain a strong advocate for greater aphantasia awareness, we need to rely on the generous support of our community. If you’d like Aphantasia Network to remain the #1 place to discover and learn about aphantasia, consider supporting our mission by becoming a member.

A good full-stack developer is paid $150,000+. Add a research team, community manager, content writers, designers and some marketing people and a normal VC-funded startup has over $1,000,000/yr in labour costs.

At present, hosting and bandwidth are relatively cheap but still gets to $2,600/yr, including backup storage and backup servers. To make the site fast, host surveys, and enable other web features, we pay over $2,500/yr to Cloudflare, Gravity Forms and other service providers. Maintaining our email list is not free. It costs over $2,500/yr, and that number is growing fast as more people discover aphantasia. 

We would like to get to a sustainable place so that we can do things like: internationalize our content, improve our website and other community support services, expand our resources, fund new and interesting research and hire a team for the roles needed above. We’re just not there yet

We wouldn’t be able to survive without community support. To our members supporting our mission, thank you. You make all this possible.

Most of our core content will remain free for the aphantasia community. We never want money to restrict access to critical insights that will help aphantasics with their discovery and understanding. You can access articles, join a public discussion, watch videos on our youtube channel and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter at no cost. 

We can offer monthly payment options. Send us a note at [email protected], and we can help get you set up. 

Of course! Referring a friend, colleague or your followers to become members is a great way to strengthen the aphantasia community. Existing members who refer others to join will receive:

  • 1 referral = 5% off recurring
  • 3 referrals = 10% off recurring
  • 10 referrals = 20% off recurring
  • 100 referrals = 100% off recurring

We’d love to welcome you to our community and learn more about your research. With membership, you gain access to our private Discord community where you will find channels for new studies and research. Here you can recruit members to participate directly, and share updates on the progress of your findings with an intellectually curious group of individuals.

Yes. Undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students can receive a discount on membership. Please send a copy of your active student id to [email protected] for 50% off until your student ID expires.

Yes, we would love to help and have quite a large research pool of citizen scientists eager to participate! To recruit through our participant pool we have a minimum charge of $500 / per campaign. This is so that we can cover our expenses and continue to support new research in this exciting field. Is your research currently unfunded? Not to worry, we also provide letters of support for grant applications. Learn more about our research collaborations

Sure. You can use any resource on the site and make screenshots of Aphantasia Network as long as you reference us as “Aphantasia Network” (with space in between) and link back! Thanks 🙂

If you’re interested in sharing your story or new research finding and getting published on Aphantasia Network, send us a story concept. We’re always looking for new and different perspectives that can help people better understand the aphantasia experience.

Our founder Tom Ebeyer is available for interview. We also have a wide network of aphantasic professionals who would welcome the opportunity to share their stories. Please email [email protected] for any media inquiries.

Select “Login” from the main menu or go to aphantasia.com/login.  

Don’t know which email or username you used? Search for emails you got from Aphantasia Network before. You can also select the lost password option and use a “magic link” to sign-in and/or follow the lost password prompts.

Please note: if you’ve subscribed to our newsletter and are receiving our updates, this doesn’t automatically mean you have an account on our site. If you get a message that an account with this email address is not registered then you will need to register. Go to aphantasia.com/register.

Not getting any login emails or don’t have access to this email anymore so you can’t receive login emails? Send us an email at [email protected] and we would be happy to help.

Member Support

In this section you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about membership. You can manage almost everything by yourself including changing your credit card info, cancelling your membership or referring others to join. Read more below.

Upon signing up as a member, you should receive an email with an invitation to join our Discord community. Click on the link in this email.

Please be advised that Discord is a third-party service provider, it’s a text/chat app that is used by millions of online communities just like ours.

Beyond our basic web features, it allows our members to communicate directly with each other and even send private messages to one another. It also serves as your direct line of communication to our team. It can also be added as an app on your phone so you never miss an update! Among many other great features.

If this is your first time using Discord, press Register to create your account! You’ll need to enter:

    1. A username
    2. Your email address or Phone Number
    3. A password

Once you’ve finished entering this account information, you can then press “Create an account” to start using Discord! Be sure to explore the various channels organized into discussion topics, and introduce yourself in our “introductions” channel!

Can’t find the email with the invitation? Login to the Membership Portal at aphantasia.memberful.com. Select Discord from the main menu and follow the instructions above.

As a member, you receive exclusive updates, event invitations, and more! To see all the latest member updates check out the Updates channel on Discord or go to the Membership Portal at aphantasia.memberful.com and select Latest Posts.

Yes, and it’s a great way to keep updated on all the latest member news and discussion groups!

To start using the app on mobile, download Discord from the Play Store if you’re on an Android device or App Store if you’re using iOS! 

Once the app is fully installed, tap on the app icon to launch the app. 

If this is your first time using Discord, press Register to create your account! You’ll need to enter:

  1. A username
  2. Your email address or Phone Number
  3. A password

Once you’ve finished entering this account information, you can then press “Create an account” to start using Discord! 

If you’ve already created an account previously on another platform or device, you can directly login to your account by pressing “Login” and entering your email address and password.

Sure. You can do so here: aphantasia.memberful.com

Cancel your membership and follow the instructions.

We won’t delete your account but just deactivate it and will refund you if your last payment was within 7 days. You can reactivate your membership at any time by logging back in and clicking “Reactivate”. Please note that while cancelled you can’t use any of the Aphantasia Network membership features though and your Discord account will be deactivated too.

Yes, you can manage all your membership settings including changing your credit card information from aphantasia.memberful.com

Please double check your card number, CVC code and zip/postal code is written correctly. We use fraud protection services to block suspicious cards, so they might flag one of your cards. If it still doesn’t work, try with a different card.

Yes, you can manage all your membership settings from the Membership Portal at aphantasia.memberful.com. If you do not remember your password, type in your email and select “send sign in link.” Then click on the link in your email and re-set your membership password.

Don’t know which email or username you used? Search for “Member” emails you got from Aphantasia Network before. You can also select the send me sign-in link at aphantasia.memberful.com.

Not getting any login emails or don’t have access to this email anymore so you can’t receive login emails? Send us an email at [email protected] and we can help.

Go to your account page on the Membership Portal. In the menu option, select Discord. Then follow the lost password prompts on Discord to re-join our community.

Sometimes email providers flag aphantasia.com as spam. Check your Spam or Junk folder to find out if our emails ended up there. If you’re using Gmail, also check your promotions and social tabs for our emails.

Add Aphantasia Network’s email addresses to your address book to make sure we never get lost: [email protected]

If it still doesn’t work, send us an email so we can help.

Yes you can! Become a member. Then refer others to join us and receive exclusive discounts. From your membership account page, select “referrals” to get your unique link. Share this link with others to receive discounts on your membership.

  • 1 referral = 5% off recurring
  • 3 referrals = 10% off recurring
  • 10 referrals = 20% off recurring
  • 100 referrals = 100% off for life!
To refer others to join our unique community, go to your membership account page, select Referrals to get your unique link. Share this link with others. Receive a discount on your membership for new referrals:
  • 1 referral = 5% off recurring
  • 3 referrals = 10% off recurring
  • 10 referrals = 20% off recurring
  • 100 referrals = 100% off for life!
Use your unique link and a discount will automatically be applied to your annual membership.