In this brief guide, we will look at the subject of Aphantasia cure, as well as other details about Aphantasia.
There is currently no Aphantasia cure, because to be able to cure anything one must first know what is causing it, and there is no definitive information about what causes aphantasia.
Aphantasia cure would ideally be something that affects the brain directly to enable the person to visualise things in their mind, which is what they can’t do.
However, while there is no Aphantasia cure, there are still exercises of sorts that one can do to try and train their brain to start functioning in a specific way, and because the brain is very capable of rewiring itself, one may be able to exercise it into imagining at least something in place of the blank space the person may be experiencing.
Aphantasia cures or exercises focus on helping with the non-visual cognitive processing but there are some methods which promise to kick start your “blank screen:”
You may find one such activity here, and while this may not be an Aphantasia cure by a long shot, it may still help you to some extent, depending on how severe your Aphantasia is.
This cure-like exercise for Aphantasia involves a technique called image streaming, and the goal of this technique is to improve visual thinking and creativity. When you engage in this technique, you are encouraged explore scenes in your mind by describing it in as much detail as possible, using all of your senses and verbalizing it out loud.
It has been seen that when you verbalize the image, you might see it more, and this may have something to do with the possibility of connectivity in your brain, and when you engage your temporal and frontal lobes by talking, the connected pathways that lead to imagination may get activated.
You also need to remember that a slowly fading image on your retina from looking at a bright light source is not related to aphantasia, and you will have it even if you have the condition, because that phenomenon is more a function of what is imprinted on your brain and the light that is saved in your optical areas.
However, while it is good to take the opportunity to look into getting better at something, the truth is that Aphantasia will never really stop you from doing anything, so the more you think in terms of finding an aphantasia cure, the more you might find yourself hating the fact that you are experiencing this condition.
Try not to think of aphantasia as something you need to cure because it is just another way of experiencing the world, and it is certainly not a disability. Some people live for over 50 years with aphantasia and they may not even have known that it was a thing until a few years ago and if you ask them about what their lives have been like without internal imagery, they will likely tell you that they have not missed out.
What is Aphantasia?
Aphantasia is a condition where the person is unable to imagine things, or more specifically, they have a lack of visual imagery when they try to visualise things in their mind.
In other words, Aphantasia is a condition which may be defined as the inability to voluntarily visualize mental imagery, but it may not be limited to vision alone, and some may also report an inability to recall sounds, smells, or sensations of touch.
Prosopagnosia, which is the inability to recognize faces and is a parietal lobe syndrome, is also associated with Aphantasia fairly often.
The phenomenon of aphantasia was first described by Francis Galton in 1880 there have not really been many studies about it since then either, and it wasn’t even called Aphantsia when Sir Francis Galton studied it.
The phenomenon of Aphantasia received new attention after the publication of a study in 2015 conducted by a team led by Professor Adam Zeman of the University of Exeter, which also coined the term aphantasia, but despite this research, information about this condition is still scarce.
Because not enough is known about aphantasia, it is very hard to ascertain how to prevent it or any aphantasia cures, but some people suggest that apparently image streaming and visualization exercises can help.
The term “aphantasia” is derived from the Greek word “phantasia”, which translates to “imagination”, and the prefix “a-“, which means “without”.
The authors of the study propose the use of the term ‘aphantasia’ to refer to a condition of
reduced or absent voluntary imagery. Other terms that have been used previously in related contexts about this condition include ‘defective visualisation’ and ‘visual irreminiscence’
The paper that Zeman’s team published was actually on what they termed “congenital aphantasia”, but there have been reports of people acquiring aphantasia as well, and some people also report that aphantasia is possible when someone has been suffering from depression or suffers from a brain trauma of some kind.
There is no dedicated, validated and reliable test for aphantasia yet, but one may still try out the test that the researchers used in their study to assess aphantasia, which is known as the Vividness Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire, or the VVIQ.
Additionally, there has been an aphantasia apple test floating around on the internet for some time now, but bear in mind that this may not be an accurate test for many reasons, the most important of which is that it is not a scientific tool and as such its results cannot be trusted.
The Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ) was developed in 1973 by the British psychologist David Marks and it consists of 16 items in four groups of 4 items in which the participant is invited to consider the image formed in thinking about specific scenes and situations.
The vividness of the image is rated along a 5-point Likert scale. The questionnaire has been widely used as a measure of individual differences in vividness of visual imagery. The large body of evidence confirms that the VVIQ is a valid and reliable psychometric measure of visual image vividness.
This is the reason it has been used pretty significantly as an aphantasia test, and it has also been used in some other conditions like when someone’s cognitive, motor or sensory performances need to be studied.
Aphantasia causes have also not been enumerated yet, simply because the study that sparked renewed interest in the condition has identified only congenital aphantasia, while there have not been many studies to assess what conditions might lead to acquired aphantasia.
However, even though it is not known what causes aphantasia, the mechanism behind what goes on in the aphants mind is still something that can be understood based on what we know about imagination and how it happens in the brain.
Basically, it is known that when we experience voluntary imagery, we may see enhanced activity in fronto-parietal ‘executive’ systems and in posterior brain regions which together enable us to generate images on the basis of our stored knowledge of appearances, and this enables us to hypothesise that these circuits might be broken in someone with aphantasia.
The relative contributions of lower and higher order visual regions to the experience of visual imagery are debated and it cannot be said with utmost certainty that these areas take any significant role in the experience of imagery.
Furthermore, reports have suggested the existence of two major types of neurogenic visual imagery impairment, which are:
- visual memory disorders, causing both visual agnosia and imagery loss
- ‘imagery generation’ deficits selectively disabling imagery
Even though the researcher who identified congenital aphantasia in his research only focused on this one type and the other types have not been explored yet, he does mention a case study of acquired aphantasia, as evidenced in this excerpt from the paper:
“In 2010 we reported a particularly ‘pure’ case of imagery generation disorder, in a 65 year old man who became unable to summon images to the mind’s eye after coronary angioplasty (Zeman et al., 2010). Following a popular description of our paper (Zimmer, 2010), we were contacted by over twenty individuals who recognised themselves in the article’s account of ‘blind imagination’, with the important difference that their imagery impairment had been lifelong. Here we describe the features of their condition, elicited by a questionnaire, and suggest a name – aphantasia – for this poorly recognised phenomenon.”
You may read the entire paper here.
How to cure Aphantasia: Reddit
Here are some reddit tips about how to cure aphantasia, as well as other reddit opinions on the condition aphantasia:
“If you are doing this for yourself alright,
If you are doing this to help others I need you to do the following.
Repeat the binocular rivalry test every day and document the process. You can find instructions on how to do this by a quick google search of binocular rivalry test, though the trick with aphantasia is to do the test, then think of one of the shapes for 10 seconds and repeat the test. The difference between what you see in each test. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx0BonbqpYw Dr Pearson (the person who has shown that the test is a reliable way of seeing if someone has aphantasia) goes into the detail. If you can visualise you should see a difference after you have thought about the shape, as in the fight for dominance the image in your mind is the tiebreaker.”
“I’ve made progress with the help of psychedelics and weed, starting from 0 imagery, I can sometimes get very weak imagery, and under psychedelics it’s like I have low to average visualization skills, even though when I started psychedelics I had 0 mental imagery even under the influence.
However I do remember that I was born with mental imagery, and it disappeared when repressing memories of a childhood trauma (which psychs helped me recover).”
“Good luck to you. So far we don’t have any evidence that a “cure” for aphantasia exists but maybe you will be the first one. Meanwhile, try to appreciate how special and powerful your brain is. Do some puzzles, build something, write some code or write a book or something. You have a really good brain. You are probably good at things you haven’t even tried yet.”
In this brief guide, we looked at the subject of Aphantasia cure, as well as other details about Aphantasia.
Aphantasia is a curious condition and it is natural for people to wonder about what it is and why it happens, or if there is an Aphantasia cure.
If you have any questions or comments about Aphantasia cure, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Aphantasia Cure
Is Aphantasia a disability?
No, Aphantasia is not a disability.
What causes Aphantasia?
The causes of Aphantasia can be genetics, because most people seem to be born with it, but in some cases Aphantasia can be acquired as well, following a brain injury, or sometimes after periods of depression or psychosis.
How common is Aphantasia?
Aphantasia is not that common, in fact only about 1 to 3 percent of people have the recently discovered condition called “aphantasia,”, which means that the person sees absolutely nothing in their imagination.
Why can’t I imagine things anymore?
You might not be able to imagine things anymore because you are depressed or anxious, which is also something that can lead to one feeling like they are simply not able to have an inner monologue or imagine things in their mind.
Another very rare condition called aphantasia is also responsible for making people feel like they are not able to imagine things anymore, and these individuals may often struggle with visualising anything in their minds, including faces and pictures.
There is no known cure for aphantasia, though the condition does not pose any significant risks. The inability to form images on demand is likely disappointing to some, but those with aphantasia use alternative skills to perceive and interpret the world.What is the IQ of aphantasia? ›
People with aphantasia tend to have a higher average IQ (115 compared to the 110 score of the general population) and are less affected by scary stories since they cannot visualize them.What is aphantasia reverse condition? ›
Hyperphantasia is the condition of having extremely vivid mental imagery. It is the opposite condition to aphantasia, where mental visual imagery is not present.What is aphantasia a symptom of? ›
Aphantasia, which may affect as many as 1 in 50 people, happens when your brain's visual cortex doesn't work properly. Your visual cortex is the part of your brain that processes visual information from your eyes. Scientists aren't sure what causes aphantasia.Is aphantasia a type of autism? ›
Aphantasics show elevated autism-linked traits. Aphantasia and autism linked by impaired imagination and social skills. Aphantasia (low imagery) can arise in synaesthesia (usually linked to high imagery). Aphantasic synaesthetes have more 'associator' than 'projector' traits.Is aphantasia a result of trauma? ›
For instance, someone with non-congenital aphantasia of a psychogenic origin may have acquired the condition as a result of trauma, with their lack of imagery being a coping mechanism, one that also causes them to forget that they ever had imagery in the first place.Is aphantasia a big deal? ›
But aphantasia not only impacts people's learning experiences; it also extends into their personal lives. Not being able to visualize means never picturing the faces of family or close friends and remembering images as abstract information.Do people with aphantasia think? ›
People with aphantasia can think about things just fine, but they can't visualize them." You've likely never heard of aphantasia as it's still not a widely recognized, everyday term. But an estimated 2 to 3 percent of people can't form mental imagery.Do aphantasia dream? ›
Recent studies of aphantasia and its neurobehavioral correlates reveal that the majority of aphantasics, whilst unable to produce visual imagery while awake, nevertheless retain the capacity to experience rich visual dreams.How do people with aphantasia remember things? ›
They often recall specific imagery that stands out about the memory. For people with aphantasia, memories of events are often comprised simply of a listing of facts. While the exact nature and impact this condition are not yet clear, research does suggest that aphantasia may have a negative impact on memory.
The majority of people have aphantasia since birth, sometimes referred to as “lifelong aphantasia.” Rarely can it result from a stroke or head injury.Can people with aphantasia draw? ›
Individuals with aphantasia had a harder time—they could place a few objects in the room, but their drawings were often simpler, and relied at times on written descriptions. For example, some wrote the word “window” inside an outline of a window rather than drawing the windowpanes.Is aphantasia linked to dementia? ›
Aphantasia is a heterogeneous neuropsychological syndrome consisting of the inability to create mental images. We argue that its progressive form may be a harbinger of dementia.Do people with aphantasia have anxiety? ›
A subgroup of 34.7% of participants with aphantasia reported distress significantly associated with lower well-being and high levels of anxiety and depression. The level of distress increased with poorer performance in autobiographical memory and theory of mind.What are people with aphantasia like? ›
And people with aphantasia usually aren't able to picture how characters look, or visualize the settings they're in, while reading books, Zeman tells CNBC Make It. They may also struggle to recall the face of someone dear to them who has passed away, he adds.Does aphantasia affect social skills? ›
People without visual imagery can experience a host of challenges. For example, the ability to recall faces or familiar places can cause frustration and social difficulties.Is aphantasia linked with autism or ADHD? ›
We found that aphantasics reported more autistic traits than controls, with weaknesses in imagination and social skills.Is aphantasia a learning disability? ›
Aphantasia as a Disability
Aphantasia is a relatively new term, and the inability to see images mentally has rarely been understood by those with the ability unless they know someone affected by it. Because so little is known about it, it is not recognized with other learning disabilities.
People with aphantasia are sometimes unable to recall smells, sounds, or sensations of touch. There are some people who are unable to bring images to mind, even of familiar places or family members. Interestingly, aphantasia does not seem to impair creativity.Is aphantasia a gift? ›
Aphantasia Is a Gift
You have a mind that is naturally quiet and image-less. You don't have a million random thoughts and mental pictures floating through your head distracting you. You do not have to deal with a Monkey Mind. Created by Network Member Mike Swanson using DALL-E.
“Aphantasics reported dreaming less often, and the dreams they do report seem to be less vivid and lower in sensory detail,” says Prof Pearson. What is this? “This suggests that any cognitive function involving a sensory visual component—be it voluntary or involuntary—is likely to be reduced in aphantasia.”Do people with aphantasia have bad memories? ›
In recent work (Dawes et al., 2020), we demonstrated that individuals with aphantasia report general deficits in episodic memory, future prospection, and semantic memory (but not spatial memory), and report a significantly reduced ability to visualise elements of scenes during autobiographical memory recall.Are people with aphantasia less emotional? ›
Recognising you have aphantasia can be a relief, as can explaining the situation to others so they can understand you better. Note that there can also be mental health positives to aphantasia. Those who have the condition report things like being less emotional after loss, and more in control of their feelings.What do people with aphantasia see when they close their eyes? ›
Nothing. Their mind's eye is blank. They experience a neural phenomenon called aphantasia. Aphantasia is a condition in which a person cannot visualize mental images.Is aphantasia face blindness? ›
Aphantasia is the inability to visualize. Prosopagnosia, or face blindness, is characterized by difficulty or inability to recognize familiar faces.How do you test for aphantasia? ›
A simple test for aphantasia.
That said, there is a simple and helpful test that can give you a clue into whether you may have it: Close your eyes and try to imagine an apple, seeing it mentally in your mind's eye. If you can see anything (anything at all—even a blurry outline), you do not have aphantasia.
Whatever is happening neurally, it does seem to be heritable to some degree, with people with aphantasia more likely to have a close relative (parent, sibling or child) who also struggles to visualise. One reason aphantasia may have gone nameless and unstudied for so long is because it isn't necessarily a problem.What percentage of people have a mind's eye? ›
When we're asked to imagine a scene or object, most of us are able to conjure up an image in our mind's eye. But about 2-5% of the population can't do this: they have a condition called aphantasia, and are unable to produce mental imagery at all.Is aphantasia a spectrum? ›
Some professionals in the field classify aphantasia as the complete lack of visual imagery, while others classify aphantasia as more of a spectrum, spanning from complete absence to low-level imagery abilities.What is aphantasia brain activity? ›
People with aphantasia often cannot explain how they visualize their thoughts, as they do not create mental images in the first place. Because of this, the condition of aphantasia serves as a gateway to the realm of metacognition, otherwise known as “thinking about your thinking”.
Some people can be born with aphantasia. It's possible there may be a genetic link, but much more research is needed to confirm this. Some people can also develop aphantasia later in life. This might occur after suffering an injury to their brain, like a stroke or trauma.Can people with aphantasia remember faces? ›
WHAT IS APHANTASIA? Aphantasia is the medical term to describe people born without a so-called 'mind's eye. ' This means they can't remember faces, imagine a scene or count sheep when they're trying to get to sleep.Can aphantasia affect emotions? ›
Aphantasia may impact the way we process emotion. The discovery can lead to mixed emotions, such as confusion, relief, sadness, or even a greater sense of identity. Discover some of the personal stories and early research into aphantasia and emotion.Why did I develop aphantasia? ›
Some people can be born with aphantasia. It's possible there may be a genetic link, but much more research is needed to confirm this. Some people can also develop aphantasia later in life. This might occur after suffering an injury to their brain, like a stroke or trauma.Is aphantasia temporary? ›
The term aphantasia was coined recently to describe the latter, which is usually lifelong.Can people with aphantasia think? ›
People with aphantasia can think about things just fine, but they can't visualize them." You've likely never heard of aphantasia as it's still not a widely recognized, everyday term. But an estimated 2 to 3 percent of people can't form mental imagery.Can aphantasia lead to dementia? ›
Aphantasia is a heterogeneous neuropsychological syndrome consisting of the inability to create mental images. We argue that its progressive form may be a harbinger of dementia.Do aphantasia have memories? ›
Overall, the results show that people with aphantasia have less vivid and detailed memories — particularly when it comes to visual details — and this this effect is clear whether they are asked about their experience or tested in more “objective” ways.Do people with aphantasia dream differently? ›
In dreams and memories
While visualising a sunset is a voluntary action, involuntary forms of cognition—like dreaming—were also found to occur less in people with aphantasia. “Aphantasics reported dreaming less often, and the dreams they do report seem to be less vivid and lower in sensory detail,” says Prof Pearson.