What does aphantasia consist of?


Start by closing your eyes and visualizing last summer's beach vacation. It is normal that you are able to feel the sea breeze or hear the sound of the waves as they reach the shore. However, it is possible that you can't see the beach in your mind. If this happens to you, you may be experiencing what is known as aphantasia.

This is a phenomenon by which many people They are not able to visualize mental images. In the following article we are going to talk to you in detail about aphantasia and the causes or reasons why it occurs.

What is aphantasia

Aphantasia is the inability that many people have to be able to voluntarily create mental images. People who suffer from aphantasia they cannot visualize images in their minds, whether remembering past events, imagining future situations or even dreaming while they are sleeping. For people living with aphantasia, the experience of imagination is completely devoid of any visual form, and instead they will rely fully on other senses, such as hearing, smell or touch. Thanks to these senses they are able to evoke memories of the past.

Aphantasia was first identified by British neurologist Adam Zeman in 2015. Since then there has been a growing interest in understanding the causes of this phenomenon and what it may imply. Although aphantasia will vary in its intensity and manifestation, it affects approximately 5% of the population, according to various studies.

How to know if a person suffers from aphantasia

When it comes to finding out if someone suffers from this condition, It is important to ask the following questions:

  • You think of someone close like a friend or family member and the image in the mind is not sharp or clear at all.
  • You think about specific movements or situations and It is impossible to see the fact itself.
  • The person is totally unable to focus completely in details of different mental images.

In the case of suffering from some of these points, it is quite likely that the person will suffer or suffer from certain degree of aphantasia.


Symptoms of aphantasia

People who suffer from aphantasia describe their imaginative experience like a kind of "blank screen"» in which it is impossible to project any type of image. They realize their condition when they are unable to remember events experienced in the past and realize that they are not able to mentally see what they are trying to evoke in their minds. Some people with aphantasia become quite frustrated with the fact that they cannot visualize anything in their mind, especially with the fact that other people can do it in an easy and simple way.

On the other hand, it should be noted that people who suffer from aphantasia can also develop alternative strategies to process information and access memories. In this way they can use of other sensory sensess to be able to access different memories or to plan future events. This therefore indicates that the absence of mental images will not have to limit the ability to think creatively or remember past experiences, but will simply consist of using different cognitive pathways.

Causes of aphantasia

The cause of aphantasia is not known, but different researchers have proposed several theories to explain why some people are unable to visualize images in their minds. Some research suggests that aphantasia may be related with differences in brain functioning, especially in areas related to imagination and visualization.

Another theory suggests that aphantasia could be the result of differences in the way people process sensory information. Various studies have been able to confirm that people who have aphantasia tend to have more preference by external sensory information, as happens with music or visual images, to the detriment of internal sensory information.

It is also thought and believed that aphantasia may have a genetic component. This is because several studies have found evidence that aphantasia can be inherited in certain families. However, this is something that is not completely proven and needs much more study.

what is aphantasia

The implications and understanding of aphantasia

Aphantasia will raise all kinds of questions about the nature of the human being and the way in which people will be able to process sensory information. Although it may be disconcerting for an important part of society, aphantasia is not considered a disorder, since people who have this condition can lead a completely normal, functional and creative life.

However, understanding aphantasia may have certain implications in such important and relevant fields. such as psychology, neuroscience and education. In addition to this, thoroughly investigating aphantasia can help find certain answers about the underlying mechanisms of imagination and mental imagery.

What is it like to live with aphantasia?

Aphantasia can become Quite distressing for many people. This is because it is difficult to mentally visualize the faces of loved ones or memories from the past. Despite this, this condition should not be an obstacle to being happy in life and having some success in it. There is no treatment for it, so the person who suffers from aphantasia must deal with this condition.

Ultimately, aphantasia will allow us to remember how complex the functioning of the brain can be. As the phenomenon of aphantasia is studied and investigated, one can come to understand the importance What does the fact of imagination have? and how minds are capable of constructing the world that surrounds human beings.

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