The definition of aphantasia is quite simple at first glance.

Aphantasia is a condition where a person is unable to visualise images in their minds eye.

However, we should break that down a bit further.


Is aphantasia a condition?

Aphantasia is a different way of experiencing thought and memories, to label it a condition could lead to it being perceived as a disability, when in reality it is more of an occasional difficulty.

Dr Adam Zeman himself made it clear that it isn't a disability, however, to visualisers it seems a disability. Let's look at the definition of a medical condition.

"A disease, illness or injury; any physiologic, mental or psychological condition or disorder. A biological or psychological state which is within the range of normal human variation is not a medical condition."

The last sentence is the key part, as the majority of people can visualise, aphantasia does not fall within the range of normal human variation, so aphantasia is a medical condition.

However, it must be made clear it is not a disability.


Is aphantasia just limited to imagery? 

People with aphantasia vary in their ability to synthesise senses in their mind. The majority are unable to reproduce anything within their mind, be it visual, sound, smell, taste, touch. It is noted that even for people who can visualise in their minds eye, not everyone can achieve the other abilities, or even to the same degree.

The ability to harness your minds eye varies amongst the general population, the difference is, people with aphantasia are unable to create any synthesised senses in their mind.


What is the minds eye?

The minds eye is a term used to describe the human ability to visualise.


Does this apply to dreams?

 No, some people with aphantasia can dream vividly, some dream in a limited way, some don't really dream at all. There appears to be no link between having aphantasia and your ability to dream. Aphantasia is related to your conscious state only.


So how would you define aphantasia?

Aphantasia is where a person is unable to experience their conscious thoughts or memories beyond their internal monologue.


Please interact with this article below.


Updated to reflect that aphantasia refers to a conscious state only.


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Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by Kokonee62 #2808
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I need to know how to contact some one who is doing research on this and find out how i can become part of the study. I am excited that I finally know why I cant see images. I dream vividly and can hear music in my head when I think about the song. I have a great memory for detail and describe/write what I have seen.
Posted: 3 years 9 months ago by Nathan Buzby #1574
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Good questions to be asked, for example with my autism diagnosis, one thing we have discussed is that I am not a complete fit in the traditional stereotype, I excel at verbal and not so much at visio-spatial and abstraction (I am above average in those areas as well, but it is grossly unbalanced towards verbal).

I know that some data is stored in my mind, it just cannot make the connection to recalling an image, even a hazy or fuzzy one, so my guess is that the connection from my visual cortex to my frontal is lacking. Have you watched Temple Grandin's TED talk? She breaks down autism along these lines, even shares an MRI showing her substantial neuro-connection between those two regions of the brain.

It is conceivable then, that the visual data may be stored in some fashion, but is not available for conscious use, so we take in and store visual data, but cannot utilize or manipulate it consciously?

It is fascinating though, aphantasia and Hyperphantasia could explain some of these differences we see on the autism spectrum, that may not in fact be spectrum traits at all, but normal human cognitive variations that then have an effect on how autism is then manifested in areas of observation, personality, etc.
Posted: 3 years 9 months ago by gone wild #1573
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I'm wondering: Are aphantasics not seeing "images" while awake because they physically can't, or because:

1. they expect those images to be like seeing with your eyes
2. the image is there but it the person isn't aware of it (not paying attention because it's not a priority - maybe verbal function overrides visualization)
4. is there a medical explanation?
5. can visualization be learned or strengthened through practice, meditation?

Maybe they're okay with the way it is

I know that people who are unaware that many Asperger's think visually (tests are verbal and abstract) and conclude that we're defective or "missing parts" of brain development.
Posted: 3 years 9 months ago by Thomas #1568
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Updated the article, thank you for your feedback.
Posted: 3 years 9 months ago by Thomas #1564
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Good point, I should clarify that this is for when you are awake.
Posted: 3 years 9 months ago by Douglas #1560
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I think of my Aphantasia as having no mind's eye in my conscious state in contrast to my ability to dream while asleep. By this definition, if one experiences images while asleep, can they not have total aphantasia? I have never experiences any imagery while awake.
Posted: 3 years 9 months ago by Thomas #1550
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