Exploring blind imagination.
There has been talk of this being more common in people on the autism spectrum .
Thanks Firemonkey. This is something that's been on my mind a bit lately, since my aphantasia has been tangentially connected to a couple of topics here recently. I'm not sure I want to get involved in another forum, but there are certainly some enlightening articles there. I was particularly intrigued by an article on 3D mental rotation tasks, one of the conclusions of which was; "people with aphantasia may be able to form visual images, but don’t have conscious access to them." - almost word for word the same as my personal hypothesis which I mentioned here only a couple of days ago; maybe I'm not quite as crazy as I think I am sometimes!
Intriguing topic and one I've talked on here about before, I think.
One slightly frustrating aspect for me is that I've found no resonance online with my experience, especially in the way the rating scales and quizzes are constructed. The latter seem to imply that the impact of aphantasia is simply to blur, or remove detail from, images in our "mind's eye", the implication being that some people can see almost photographic sharpness whilst others see blurry shapes and tones of colour as if through fog. My experience is that I see various *aspects* of an image, sometimes disjoint from each-other, but critically the image is *unstable* - so if I try to examine a particular part of it, it is apt to change or even disappear.
For example, if I try to imagine the Houses of Parliament seen from the bridge over the Thames, I can become "aware of" Big Ben and the building stretching away from me on my right, but I perceive this only as a "sense of" straight lines and yellowness of brick and dark water under sky. If I try to "look" at anything, the details disappear, or other parts of the "image" (such as it is) move around or disappear.
I tried the rotation tests here https://discovermyprofile.com/tag/Intelligence . I scored 30/117 = 25.64% . I've come across quite a few people with aphantasia who say they are good at mental rotation tasks .
I got 18/27 on this one: planning.e-psychometrics.com/.../spatial3d
If anything, the fleeting glimpses that I get are only of details, as if my visual memory has all of the component geometry but can't fit them into a single coherent image, and no particular sensation lasts more than a fraction of a second. It's sometimes rather similar to having a word on the tip of one's tongue; an anticipatory feeling that something might be about to coalesce, but which never does.
That's the closest thing that I've ever read anyone else say to what I experience :-).
It's really difficult to describe:
If anyone on here is an engineer and knows what happens to signals when you remove phase information and just leave amplitude (e.g. demodulating a single sideband signal through an AM detector) - that's a close analogy; my brain shows me "elements" of the image (glimpses and feelings of edges, colours, feelings of the whole image) but getting them coherent and stable is almost impossible. So in that sense, I too only see the details (the elements) & struggle with the whole picture.
It strikes me too that there's a correspondence of sorts with this description and "weak central coherence" i.e. a tendency to not see the wood for the trees, that is supposedly a feature of ASD - I wonder if these two things arise from a common underlying "wiring difference" in our brains? Probably a very long shot as one is to do with visual memory and the other to do with cognition much more generally, but still.......
Your analogy works well for me - I was a DIY electronics enthusiast throughout my teens, and for the last 10-15 years or so, one of my main hobbies has been programming for digital signal processing (mostly audio, but a little for images, too). The geometric hallucinations that I see have a somewhat similar character; as if I'm able to able to perceive the algorithms for detecting edges and closed shapes working, partly based on what my eyes are seeing, and partly false positives with the appearance of form constants or fractals. I've wondered even if these might be interfering with my ability to imagine consistent visual scenes.
I'm done with Christmas Cards said:It strikes me too that there's a correspondence of sorts with this description and "weak central coherence" i.e. a tendency to not see the wood for the trees
That's an interesting idea, and it strikes me as having the ring of truth about it. It makes sense to me that memories would be encoded somehow from the resulting impression rather than from the "raw data", so to speak - rather like the data compression and expansion of an image or audio codec (themselves often relying on models of perception to calculate what data can be removed without producing perceptual artefacts).
On a slightly more whimsical note, early cubist paintings by Picasso and Braque often look to me as if they might have been trying to capture a 'freeze frame' of a very similar kind of imagery. I have no evidence whatsoever to suggest that this was really the case, of course; but the intermingling of small details captured with no consistent point of view has always seemed uncannily familiar.
Trogluddite said:On a slightly more whimsical note, early cubist paintings by Picasso and Braque often look to me as if they might have been trying to capture a 'freeze frame' of a very similar kind of imagery.
Wow! - Yes! I Googled "cubism" just after I posted my reply above, hoping that Google would throw me an image that I could post here saying "it looks like this". How amazing!
Trogluddite said:It makes sense to me that memories would be encoded somehow from the resulting impression rather than from the "raw data"
I think that's actually what does happen - I remember reading decades ago about experiments on cats where it was determined that specific sets of neurones fire when, for e.g., the cat's eyes are presented with a vertical line. Different neurones fire for horizontal lines, diagonal lines, moving lines etc.
So your theory is that, whilst we see "real" things normally (as far as we know) that visual memories are missing something, and hence the palette that we have for constructing visual memories or imagined visual scenes is missing those somethings too?
Having said that we see things normally, I'm reminded of a discussion on another thread about a video showing an ASD view of walking down the street, getting distracted by drain covers and pipes etc - so I wonder if our sensitivity to edges and shapes is higher (or at least higher relative to sensitivity to the more homogeneous background) than a typical person's?
I have aphantasia. I can't picture anything at all. I used to be in some forums for it but I found a lot of people on them very annoying. Lots of people complaining about the lack of research, others trying to do their own research and then draw absolutely crazy conclusions from it because they don't have a research background so don't really know what they are doing and others who just like to make the most ridiculous links between aphantasia and every other personality trait or medical condition they have whether it makes sense or not.
I would like there to be more research on it but it's only really been known about for the last 5 years or so. To me though, it would seem to make sense that people with autism are more likely to have this as many autistic people don't have amazing imaginations but it's something which would need to be studied to say for certain.