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TOPIC: Well-Documented Scientific Evidence?

Well-Documented Scientific Evidence? 1 year 5 months ago #3454

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Can someone direct me to a scientific study of the percentage of people who can make images pop into their head?

I can't shake the feeling that some people don't realize they're talking in metaphors when they discuss the goings on inside their head or otherwise have a narrow range of what they think is normal. Seeing a red circle is not the same as seeing an apple and I can't help but think that when people say they see an apple, they are making a logical leap past any possible visual sensations they actually have.

There may additionally be some degree of ambiguity when using certain words. I have come to associate "imagining a situation" with "thinking about a situation and how I would behave or react in it". But for me, "Imagine" carries with it no implied visual sensation, but I don't know that that holds for other people, so I don't think I can use that word when talking with them without that ambiguity showing up.

I see a 2%-3% figure tossed around a lot of places, but I don't see any indication that this figure has any basis behind it. Where did it come from? What study?
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Well-Documented Scientific Evidence? 1 year 5 months ago #3455

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My worthless opinion is that aphantasia is a continuum -- ranging from those with super visualization skill to those with no ability at all. If that is true, which it may not be, any statistics would be meaningless unless it would somehow qualify the condition by degrees. To say that there are 2% to 3% of the population that has aphantasia may well be true, but to what degree?
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Well-Documented Scientific Evidence? 1 year 5 months ago #3458

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I wondered the same thing, and a few friends were very sure that was the case. But 2 or 3 people I talked to about aphantasia said they had extremely vivid mental images. When I say imagine a beach they see an HD animated image of detailed palm trees, sparkling water, fine grained sand, and can change the weather on a whim.
A friend of mine asked a psychologist about visualization at one point and was told most people can visualize a little, some people can visualize a lot, and a few people can't visualize anything. So, most people probably see a fuzzy red dot in the shape of an apple when you say "visualize" but there's definitely people on the hypervisualization side that have extremely vivid and detailed images

Obviously this isn't scientific... but I'm not sure how scientific you can be when you're asking people to describe what they see in their head... From all the first hand accounts I've gathered since I found out, I definitely believe it's true though.

I think that study is going to prove inaccurate, I think it was based on only 2,500 people, that's not enough to make assumptions about the population of the world.
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Well-Documented Scientific Evidence? 1 year 5 months ago #3459

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The 2% stat only comes from one source, which is why it shouldn't be relied upon. There may be more or less, but it will take further research and much larger sample sizes to get a more accurate percentage. The same thing goes for the all the Crowd Research section of this forum. It's fun for us to compare each other's lives and find similarities, but until actual research is done, everything is anecdotal.

ussfa344 is correct about it being a spectrum. I've spoken with enough people to find that some people completely lack visual thinking, while others have very vivid mental imagery, and even more people that lie somewhere inbetween. The same goes for audio, smell, taste, and touch. There are levels of clarity for each in their own heads.
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Well-Documented Scientific Evidence? 1 year 5 months ago #3466

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Here's the 2500/2% study: www.researchgate.net/profile/Bill_Faw/pu...08ae591c19d9ecb6.pdf
The sample was university psychology students, so may not have been representative of the general population. It's an interesting paper, with the researcher's own experience as a non-imager as well as stats and philosophy and history.
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Well-Documented Scientific Evidence? 1 year 5 months ago #3549

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I can't shake the feeling that some people don't realize they're talking in metaphors when they discuss the goings on inside their head or otherwise have a narrow range of what they think is normal. Seeing a red circle is not the same as seeing an apple and I can't help but think that when people say they see an apple, they are making a logical leap past any possible visual sensations they actually have.

Believe me, there is no metaphor here. If you ask me to think of an apple, I see the apple. Like a full color hologram of an apple; photos aren't 3-D. I can imagine picking it up and feeling the smooth, slightly waxy skin, and so forth.

I had as hard a time wrapping my mind around "Some people don't have visual sensations, or very indistinct visual sensations, when thinking of things" as you seem to be having with the fact that some people do. But I've come around to accept that there is, apparently, a great deal of variance on this.
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Well-Documented Scientific Evidence? 1 year 5 months ago #3568

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I realized that no one answered his original question, as to documented scientific evidence.

As far as I can tell, there's no good proof yet. However, I would believe the existence of internal image states to be a falsifiable proposition. Currently we have a crude capability of turning visual cortex excitations back into the image that caused activity in the neural cortex to begin with. A possible experiment would be to have a population of test subjects composed of aphantasaic and hyperphantasaic people be given fMRI scans while given the task of imagining something or someone, perhaps "Please picture the Mona Lisa in your mind" or "Picture Ben Franklin's face" or something of that nature. There should be a difference, I think, in the visual reconstructions. It might even produce much more obvious results, like the visual cortex and the visual association cortex both being lit up like a Christmas tree in the hyperphantasiac group, while only the visual association cortex lights up for the aphantasiac group. Or something. But there's going to be a difference.

So far this experiment does not seem to have been run. While fMRI image construction of what people are looking at has been done, as far as I know all experiments so far have had an actual physical image for them to look at, and no one has run one with purely mental representations.
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Well-Documented Scientific Evidence? 1 year 5 months ago #3575

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Sensorium, If you can perfectly visualize a 3D world in your minds - can you also remember it?
This would explain some techniques for remembering odd bits like the decimals of Pi.
Could someone visualize a complicated house and just place random numbers in different places in that house?

Since only a few people are able to do this, does it mean that techniques like these are actually not available to large groups of people at all. Or else I would imagine great numbers of people would be able to recall seemingly random things by - say constructing memories of their visualizations where they have organized random things in structured ways?
Last Edit: 1 year 5 months ago by IsThisTrue.
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Well-Documented Scientific Evidence? 1 year 5 months ago #3576

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Go read the "THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!!!" thread in this subforum. I've done that as a memorization tool.

And yes, a completely imaginary place/thing/person can be remarkably stable if you think about them a lot or if it makes a particularly strong impression on you. It's the same process as for remembering/visualizing real places/things/people. There's just not an objective, actually existent thing to refer back to or point people at.

Now, if you're using that to memorize arbitrary information, it's doable but it takes time and effort to fix such a place in your head. To use your example of a complicated house with numbers, I'd have to think of ways to work with rather than against the way the mind wants to fill in details. Like, I don't know, there's three trees in front of the house, I enter the door and see a picture of our first President, George Washington, there are four doors, but only one is open, and if I go through it there are five chairs around the table, and when I walk past it there's a cat in the next doorway (it has nine lives), and there are twins in the next room...

That makes for a pretty easy mnemonic. And (because I just thought it up) I can run through it in my head real quick - trees, George Washington, doors, open door, table, cat, twins - but at the moment it has no particular permanence. But if I keep mentally running through the house, I'd fix it, and then just be able to keep adding rooms.

And sometimes you just run into an image mnemonic that you instantly memorize the first time. CORRECT HORSE BATTERY STAPLE from the comic about password strength is a good example. I can't remember the other password exactly (some variation of troubador, if my memory serves) but the bottom right frame about the other password is dead on. I had indeed memorized it instantly on sighting the picture for the first time.
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