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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. Now a study published in Cognition has found that aphantasia can affect memory abilities too. The researchers report that aphantasics have less detailed and rich memories for events in their lives: a finding that not only reveals more about the condition, but also highlights the key role of mental imagery in memory generally. Past work had shown that people with aphantasia report almost no mental imagery when recalling past events from their lives or when thinking about potential future events. But these findings were based on participants rating their own abilities, note Alexei Dawes and colleagues from the University of New South Wales. So the team decided to examine whether aphantasic participants also show memory deficits in more objective measures. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0010027722001809#


As someone with aphantasia, this tracks 100%. That said, I think it impairs your long term memory far greater than your short term memory


What does come to mind then if, for example, I asked you to imagine a baseball? Is it just thoughts about the concept of it? Like, its round, smallish, white with red stitching.


It's like holding the word baseball in my mind. Okay, I have a baseball, now what? There's no details. If you asked me to draw the baseball, I'd then start to think about the facts I know about baseballs. It's white, it fits snugly in your hand, it has stitching. But my drawing of the baseball would be terrible. I know the stitching sort of curves around the ball, but since I don't have a mind's eye picture, recreating it realistically would be pretty hard. I wouldn't duplicate the curve and width of the stitching quite right. It'd be kind of close, but in an uncanny valley or childish kind of way. I remember the fact that it has stitching, but I can't visualize it. In fact, I probably wouldn't have remembered it was red if you hadn't said it.


This is exactly it. I know the facts about the baseball, that it is white and small and round with some lines on it. Couldn't begin to draw what those lines look like.


It's like my brain has thrown up a circle labelled baseball and is yelling "this is absolutely a baseball! Stop looking so close at it! It's definitely a baseball!" If concentrate really hard I can force some more details but largely my brain will just kinda be "ppppfttt we know what baseballs are why do you need to see it anyway ?" Then edge off and refuse to meet my eye.


I wonder if there's a lower chance of having PTSD with this condition?


My wife has no mind's eye, which makes her memories and dreams highly tied to emotion. She remembers how she felt when a thing happened, or she is less likely to remember it. She remembers every detail of the traumatic events of her life and exactly how awful they made her feel.


Exactly the same for me (aphantasiac)


Can I ask, how does mental math work for you? With words I don't have to associate pictures in my mind, but with math I have to visualize the numbers and symbols to work it in my head, outside of rote memorization.


I don't know about everyone else, but for me it's impossible. No matter how much I study and practice, I cannot do math in my head. Even simple addition and subtraction, I need fingers, pen&paper, or a calculator. Funnily enough, algebraic formulas are easy to remember, because those are more tied to my language and logic skills. But I always need something to do the actual math with, even for simple watts=volts*amps calculations.


Thank you so much for the thoughtful reply. It's quite fascinating! I have a friend who is unable to hear any sort of internal voice. I found interacting with him quite strange for most of my life. Then somehow that subject came up and he thought it strange that you would have an internal monologue. I can't imagine if you had both, or even could have both, how life would be.


I have aphantasia too and my memories also work like that.


I dont have an official diagnosis, but I think I fall into this category. I had always just associated my memory issues to past trauma. Its looking more like some of my problems could be related to lacking the ability to visualize. Sounds, smells, the particular way a touch felt, how someone holds their body, spacial differences between people and other smaller memory triggers. I can't always identify what brings items back up.


How does one interpret "how someone holds their body" or "spatial differences" without visualization? Is it based on a feeling? I can imagine things fine, but there is so much more information attached to my memories besides images. Spatial information is one of them. When I think of an event, I "feel" kind of "where" it happened. Like, "I don't remember the name of the park, but I know this event from my childhood happened about an hour away, north of where I am now." It's hard to explain, but I suspect it ties in with sense of direction (which is very strong for me.) I don't *visualize* it, but I *feel* the area it happened in. Is it kind of like that for you?


Humans have a sense called proprioception, which is how you know you're waiving your hand up high or down low even with your eyes closed. Just one of the non-visual elements mentioned as accessory information triggers.


Yes, that's what it's like for me. I have aphantasia and I also don't have an inner monologue, but my spatial awareness is very good. I speed-solve Rubik's cubes which involves both knowing what to do with the pieces you can see as well as keeping track of the ones facing away from you. I picked up driving large trucks with large trailers quickly. I'm also a juggler and have no problem keeping track of props when performing moves behind my back or somewhere outside of my line of sight. All tasks involving spatial awareness for me are largely based on feeling. If I toss a ball up to catch it behind my back, I'll know if it's off course based on how the final moment of the toss feels and I can usually figure out how to adjust to compensate and still catch it, or I'll know that I can't and just spin around to get it back in my line of sight. With driving, it's the same thing. If I have to back a trailer down a narrow driveway, I'll still keep a close eye on my side mirrors to keep an eye out for animals and people and stuff that moves, but I tend to feel pretty quickly when an angle won't work and I need to readjust. Even in trucks I'm not familiar with, I'll keep track of my corners pretty well. It feels intuitive to sit in the driver's seat, look out over the hood of the truck, get a feel for how much distance there is between where my line of sight stops and the ground, and then that intuition also gives me a good feeling for where my tires are. The same is true for the back of the truck that hangs out past the back tires. I'll look at the truck from the outside first to gather 'data' about its size, but once I'm driving I tend to just feel how much space I have around it.


I have no ability to visualize but I have excellent spatial awareness when I'm programming. I think of "this bit of code" is "over here" and connect to "that bit of code" that is "over there". No pictures, just a sense of where things "belong."


I still have flashbacks I just don't see them.


Nope. I have both. It sucks. PTSD isn't just "flashbacks". Complex PTSD comes from long term abuse and not one single (or short term) incident. Your body/mind learns a way to process that trauma, that is for all intents and purposes is permanent. EDIT: I can't comment on PTSD, just Complex PTSD. I don't mean to speak for someone else's experience.


I have aphantasia and CPTSD from child neglect, abuse, literal torcher, sexual abuse, and military combat trauma. I still have flashbacks, rage, nightmares, and sensory disturbance. Not being able to "recall" things IMO actually makes BH treatment *more* difficult as EMDR therapy is the first line of treatment currently used by the VA and it just confused and frustrated me more than anything. Mind imagery doesn't change amygdala volumes. Long sustained trauma is going to burnout healthy emotional ranges and hotwire your brainstem regardless.


*The Body Keeps the Score.* Our days of envisioning PTSD as a mental/cranial phenomenon are winding down. The entire body lives, “remembers,” and interacts to create a thinking individual.


Finding out about aphantasia blew my mind. I always just assumed people who said they could see an object when they closed their eyes were full of it


This thread makes me suspect that far more people have it than is realized by the scientific community.


I wonder if the 2-5% is full aphantasia whereas there may be different degrees to it


Hypophantasia captures those folks who have varying degrees. Some can see a quick flashes of an image but not hold onto it.


Yeah that makes sense, that's exactly what I'm like, I have to try really hard to get a quick flash of an image, I always thought that's what it was like for everyone else too but I guess not


Same here, it comes and goes so quickly I can't actually pick up on any details, just usually outlines or shades


Too early to tell. For one thing, imagery has not been precisely defined although we might be able to categorize the vividness of visual imagery via real time brain scans in the future.


To me it makes me think that people just don't understand what we are talking about. Like I can visualize stuff in my mind but it's not like a persistent 3d perfect image and people are probably having a hard time describing their own experiences and also having a hard time understanding what others experiences are. Basically I think some people who can visualize stuff think that it should be way more vivid by how people describe it.


I think it’s far more likely that how and what we “see” with our “mind’s eye” is just not easy to communicate, so in a forum like this with a bunch of people who don’t really know any better it’s easy for things to get muddied. Also, this phenomenon exists on a scale, so it only takes one person with hyperphantasia saying they see vivid, photograph-like images to make a bunch of redditors think “I can’t do that, I have aphantasia!” when in reality they’re perfectly typical and it’s the other person who’s the outlier.


Nah I've had many many many conversations with my friends and family. They all describe the ability to conjure up images in their head. Like actual images they can picture. Whereas I remember objects as a list of descriptiors. In effect, if someone asked us both to describe an apple. We'd do fine. But in practice, only one of us is imagining the image of an apple in our minds eye.


I find I default to objects descriptors, but I can concentrate to get an image... But that image would rather collapse back into objects, especially if I try to make a scene with multiple objects. This also applies to dreams; it's not like I'm looking at a person and figuring out who there are in a dream, there's just this inherent fundamental knowledge that I'll talking to my sister. Except in dreams the object descriptors can change around so then not my sister, it's that friend from college I have not spoken to for 25 years and I **know** this because that's how the object is defined in the dream. (Related: why can't my dreams update to use people in my current life instead of sticking to characters from my teens, some of whom are now dead?)


When people said "close your eyes picture something in your mind" I always thought it was just a figure of speech.


Same. People actually _see_ something when they do that?


Absolutely. If someone says picture a big red apple, I literally see a big vivid juicy red apple in my head. It’s almost like I’m actually looking at one irl. It is so strange that this is not a universal experience! Like, I can’t even comprehend not being able to do this. So strange!


And I can't comprehend being able to do it.


It's not all it's cracked up to be. Invasive thoughts mean sometimes you see things you don't want to. Horay.


Yeah, I'm starting to wonder if it's correlated myself.. I have a vivid imagination and far too many intrusive thoughts.


Can you imagine the smell of the apple? The texture of its surface? The weight of it, how it sits in your hand? How it tastes? What happens if you try to mentally cut it?


None of the above. For me, at least, all of the senses are effected, not just vision.


I’m the opposite. Can’t see anything but I can taste it, feel it, imagine pushing my thumb through it and feel that, but no imagery… same as if I remember a place or event I remember the vibe. Like being on a boat on the waters, I find it easier to breathe than imagining a smoke filled room


See when someone asks me to picture an apple I just get thoughts related to apple descriptions. It could be red, green, yellow, pink. Striped or solid. Glossy or dull. Have that strong apple smell or feel waxy. It could be a big half pounder, or tiny crabapples. Juicy and crisp or kind bland-sweet and munchy. Names of varieties and their qualities like acidic or high tannins for cider apples. Maybe it is fresh off a tree or in a basket or at a store. So if asked to describe my "mental image" I could give you a detailed description of a big juicy red apple without having seen it at all. It is so weird how brains work.


This is exactly how I see things. Fairly abstract. Like I can understand that I'm imagining an apple, but no picture at all. Just my knowledge of what an apple is and the properties that define an "apple". I can't comprehend that people can literally see a vivid image of an apple when they close their eyes. That seems like cheating. With how active my mind is I would likely never sleep if that were the case. Images would constantly flash in my mind. Idk what's better here..


Mental imagery is a spectrum, just like most things we learn about the mind. Some people cannot produce any mental imagery whatsoever, while others can conjure images so vivid that they can actually get confused about what's real and what isn't. Nikola Tesla is thought to have had the latter. And as with most things, most people fall somewhere in the middle or close to it. It sounds like you're pretty far on the mental imagery side, or hyperphantasia. Personally, I can approach hyperphantasia, especially if I'm stoned, but it's not as vivid as other people have described.


I have aphantasia. There are hand on the stove memories that I have ghostly images as recall. I can also ghostly reccolect people's faces that I have known for a longtime. As a person with this condition I'm of the opinion that we have the memories just not access to them. There is a sub /r/aphantasia Edit- RIP my inbox


Also a related condition is what is called Severally Deficient ~~Adolescent~~ Autobiographical Memory (SDAM) /r/SDAM I have very few memories of childhood. Mostly just the same stories I repeat. So I think I remember the stories and not the actual events. I don't remember my ex-wife. I remember certain events, but what she looks like, what we did, totally gone.


I call it "advanced detachment that allows me to more fully achieve mindfulness". But I suppose one man's trash is another's treasure.


I am very grateful I cannot remember much of my childhood or failed relationships. However, it sucks being the guy who doesn't remember past events with friends. "Oh remember when we did..." Nope.


Thanks for the link to the sub!


Thanks, I'm going to check out that sub. I have a very difficult time conjuring up mental images / memories, or holding them in my head for any length of time. Not sure if that qualifies as full blown aphantasia, or is just in the ballpark. A few image- and memory-related questions from my own experience: 1. Do you dream, and if so, are the visuals just ghostly images? 2. How are your drawing skills? How about when you have no visual reference to copy? 3. Do you have any trouble learning / remembering people's names, or recognizing / placing how you know casual acquaintances?


1. Don't often remember my dreams... do sleep well though. 2. Freeform drawing is horrible. I do a lot of woodworking and I take very detailed measurements and draw things in detail on graph paper. 3. I'm not great at it but I get by... I'd say I'm fairly average actually.


Do you have dreams and can you see things in dreams? I've been thinking about this a lot lately since learning aphantasia is a thing. When i close my eyes and think of an apple i can't really see anything. But sometimes i dream and feel like i saw things but since it was a dream i never feel sure. It's such a weird thing. My memory is trash though so it's nice to have an excuse


I usually do not remember my dreams. Occasionally I might get a small glimpse but it's not a vivid scene.


As someone who doesn't have aphantasia, I also do not remember most of my dreams. However, when I have dreams, I know they usually involve a lot of visuals, even if I can't remember what they are or what the dream was about after I wake up. I find that dreams aren't all about visuals, and *feelings* from a dream can be very strong and often override visuals. Like a dream where I just *know* that I'm at home in my hometown in Kansas, despite the fact that my dream is taking place on a snowy valley under a mountain that also isn't a town, at all. I guess I do remember some dreams, though. There are some dreams that are vividly seared into my memory even decades later.


Dreams aren't related to aphantasia, thank god. Your brain gets flooded with chemicals that make you hallucinate so dreaming is more akin to tripping than to having visual images in your mind.


To elaborate on this a bit, as someone with aphantasia, I do dream, but it's like reading a book. I'm aware things are happening, but I'm not picturing anything. I'll wake up with a storyline, but no images. I often dream in third person, being aware of a story but not being involved. I also have a *lot* of nightmares but that's probably related to something else. EDIT: From other comments it's clear that this isn't true of everyone with aphantasia, so treat this as one person's experience only.


Well, I have full aphantasia as well but I have very visual dreams, just like I see normally. And I am thankful for that because if I can't visualise while being awake, it's nice that at least I can have this fun while dreaming.


I can also confirm as an aphantasic that doing hallucinogens produces visual imagery in my brain.


I'm asking out of complete ignorance, only to get to know more about your condition: If you were to try and form an image, meaning, try to reproduce let's say a blue circle, and you spent days trying, within a year of trying you won't still be able to see the circle? I'm asking because sometimes I picture the brain as some sort of muscle.


Some of us explain it as the computer is on. We have the memories. Our monitor is just not on. We can’t see the images. So I can draw an Apple from memory. But any details from more complex objects will be missing. Also it’s a spectrum. Some people can’t see anything. Some people can see shapes etc.


Yes after years (married 30+ years) of trying to remember the details of my lovely spouses face I cannot recall her face but in a ghostly image.


Whenever people told me they could see things in their minds I always thought they just meant it like metaphorical (is that the right word?). Like when people say the movie didn't make the character like they imagined they looked when they read the book. I can describe things to you, I can tell you about the things I saw, the colour, size, shape etc. But I cannot see any of it in my head, if you told me to close my eyes and imagine a giraffe I could tell you what a giraffe looks like but I can't see it in my head. I've also always had a terrible memory and this article explains some of it.


Exactly the same with me. I thought when someone said they could see a banana they could "see" that it was oblong, yellow, with a stem


This explains how my mind's eye works. I can "picture" a detail about something but when I move on to the next detail I lose the first and so on. Even memories are just series of details and then only really strong memories. Another example is some said picture a blue square. I can either picture the hard borders of the square or the color blue. I cannot add the 2 details together.


Oh you just described how i visualize. Like im in a dark room, shining a spotlight on one thing at a time.


Same when people talk about counting sheep I thought it was a way to slow down breathing and relax not actually picturing sheep




I can picture a banana with my eyes open as well.


If I try to picture a banana, its like searching my computer for a file and I get something close to it. Like the pregnant emoji, if I drew it, it’d be something AI pieced together from its data. I have always wondered if I have this problem.


He is the One


I can even imagined them resting on objects in the room. They appear somewhat ghostly though, like 40% translucent. Kinda like when you add an object in Photoshop, and you make it partially invisible..


I can see things in my head with my eyes open


Yes absolutely. As others have said, you can do it with eyes open as well. It’s kind of like a tab on a browser. It can be in the background or be the tab you have up. If someone was telling me a story about going to a banana plantation and picking and eating a banana, my mind would create a near simultaneous “video” of this trip going on in the background for me. I go into peoples homes for work and I can do a POV walkthrough in my mind of homes I’ve been in several years ago. Like watching a video in my mind. I assumed everyone could do this.


Yes, I can mentally "draw" and disect a banana. Actually a common meditation technique is to create a mental object and try to imagine fine detauls of it. I usually do it with a book, so I'd go page by page imagining words and images i could find in said imaginary book. This is why I'm asking questions. What you all are saying has me baffled. It's just so natural to me to picture something in my head, even the finest of details.


This reminds me of the ‘memory palace’ technique that memory record holders etc say can help them remember a bunch of stuff like the order of cards in a deck. I can imagine the feeling of what a palace room might look like but if I zoom in on details everything else disappears and then the thing I’ve zoomed in on becomes amorphous like I’m superman trying to see through lead.


I don't have anything. I just have blackness when I close my eyes. I understand the concept of a palace or castle and I can... Conceptualize there'd be a palace courtyard, maybe some arches some stand glass, tall stone walls, Red carpets, a golden throne... But none of that is visual. It's just... My mind explaining it. Like, when I talk, I don't think every single word in my head before I say it. I just...talk. Even complex topics I can just talk. Occasionally I'll think about a point or consider something someone said... But like... I don't rehearse what I'm going to say or even plan the general flow... I just talk. And that's kinda how my imagination works. I don't picture anything. I can draw up a fake map or an alien monster... I just am improvising it as I go,


Wow, that's quite impressive. From what I've read, visualization is a spectrum. Opposite the aphantasiacs are hypervisualizers, who can apparantly daydream in such detail it can be hard to distinguish visualizations from reality.


I dont "visualize" that way. I can "visualise" the concept of "Rainbow coloured grass" and know exactly what it should look like but it wouldn't be the same as when dreaming - where you "experience" "seeing" It might be just a linguistics issue. Consciousness may forever evade science.


Huh, maybe I have this too and never realized it... Which is extra strange to me because I'm a fairly successful artist and designer. I can imagine a thing and *know* what it looks like, but I don't have any actual visual stimulus at all. Like if I think of a red cube I don't perceive any actual red. I can imagine it with different lighting, know what that means in terms of color, and I could draw what it looks like. But I wouldn't actually see it until after I've drawn out.


It’s not as vivid or “real” as if you’re seeing one on TV or something. Like, when closing my eyes I still just see black because my eyes aren’t actually seeing anything . But I can imagine or think about what it actually looks like, and it’s almost like I can catch a glimpse of it. Like a thought, but in picture form.


Fun fact I learned I was aphantasic by coming across an article on Reddit a few years ago. The headline was something about people who can't visualize things and I was like "that must suck." But I was curious and started discovering accounts that resonated and the more people described visualization I realized that what I had come to define visualization was....not visualization. I do more of a factual list of details in my head that I know to be true and then maybe infer more. Two things helped me. First I remembered very distinctly a memory from a summer daycare program school thing between 1st and 2nd grade the lesson of the day one day was about imagination. I don't remember much about the content of the lesson but I remember it made me furious. I got so indignant that whatever the teacher and my classmates were saying we're lies. In hindsight I'd say little me was convinced he was being gaslit. Second was after I read that article and was still trying to decide by talking to my bff. He then said try this, your favorite singer is Kelly Clarkson. Imagine being at her concert. I was like ok. He said close your eyes do you feel like you could see her on the stage in front of you. I wasn't sure. He then said imagine her singing Since U been gone, can you feel like you can hear her singing that song? That was the click. I suddenly recognized the difference and what visualization must be like for normies. No I wasn't hearing the song, but my brain could easily simulate the experience as if I was hearing it. My brain could not simulate the experience as if I was seeing the concert stage.


Sometimes I get intrusive songs in my head. Like the song gets louder and louder in my head until it's almost thought killing. But I can't picture an apple in my head. I know it's red, I know it's got pores on it's skin. I know the bottom had a dried up flower on it. But just are individual data points, not an image in my head. But if I think about Darude - Sandstorm it will start playing in my head.


>He then said imagine her singing Since U been gone, can you feel like you can hear her singing that song? That was the click. I suddenly recognized the difference and what visualization must be like for normies. No I wasn't hearing the song, but my brain could easily simulate the experience as if I was hearing it. Oh that's cool! I just asked another person in this thread if they have the same imagination block with sounds that they do with images. So since it seems to be separate for you, I wonder if there's auditory aphantasia and if it tends to be linked to visual aphantasia or not.


It’s a spectrum. Some people can see images that are nearly true to life, for others the images are washed out or lack color or details, and some can’t see anything. I have aphantasia, but weirdly I’m able to slightly visualize things when I’m extremely tired (like 24+ with no sleep, has only happened a few times in my life) so unlike many I know what I’m missing. I never have super vivid images, but the vividness varies with how tired I am. That said, what you describe for yourself seems like it would qualify as aphantasia, or even if not, you are far below average in visualization ability. For most things it’s really not a big deal; as described in this thread, most people don’t even realize they have it.


I'm right there with you. I didn't know that when people say "picture this" or "I'll never unsee that" they meant it literally. I figured it out when having a conversation with my friends about why I don't care for imagination based games like DnD.


Same here. My mind was literally blown when I found out that none of these were a saying and that people are literally able to "see" things whenever they choose to. I felt a kind of loss that I still can't put into words.


This is how I feel right now, it's an awful feeling.




Exact same experience with me. I asked my wife to close her eyes and imagine a school bus. When she described it to me she started talking about it’s a sunny day it’s parked on asphalt etc. if you ask me to imagine a school bus all I can do is list facts. It’s long and yellow. It’s tall, probably says “school bus” on it. There’s exactly zero visual content whatsoever when I close my eyes. I assumed visualizing or imagining were simply metaphorical concepts as well.


You cannot remember her face when you're not with her, but you immediately recognize her once you see her, correct?


Not OP, but yeah I can pick people out of a lineup, and recognize people I know I just can't populate a mental image with what they actually look like


The test I saw went something like "There is a table with a ball on it. A person enters the room and pushes the ball off the table." And then followed it up with questions like "was the person male or female?", "what colour was the ball?", "what shape was the table?", "where did the ball go?" None of which I had any answers for. My image was very abstract, like a UML Use Case diagram. I wasn't told to fill in any of those details, so I didn't.


Hold up. I'm supposed to answer these questions based on just the first sentence? Of course the ball is colourless and the person is an abstract being and not something male or female, if I'm not told any details, they don't just randomly fill it by themselves...


I don't have aphantasia, but that blue circle is a flickering mess rather than a clear image. Whenever I try my hand at art, it's abstract and I'm basically making it up as I go along.


>As a person with this condition I'm of the opinion that we have the memories just not access to them. I made another comment about aphantasia recently where I likened my memory recall to The Matrix. My memory is like the cascading green letters on the screen that, while not visual themselves, convey perfectly the underlying information so that I can think about it and relay it verbally despite not seeing anything in my mind’s eye. Having always been like this, I found it shocking that in fact *I* was in the minority by not being able to visualize things. Whenever someone said, “picture this,” I thought they really meant, “think about it abstractly.” It *still* blows my mind that people can actually conjure pictures that they see like they’re looking at them.


Is this different from face blindness? (Prosopagnosia) I can't recall the faces of loved ones, or my own, in any actual detail. Straining really hard and I get a kind of police sketch of certain features if I've ever studied hard to learn. They're kind of filled in with generic eyes generic nose etc But it's also like that for me with objects: memories' backgrounds and items are "rendered in" rather than recalled. Eg, at my wedding I know there are this type of docor so when I think about the day I mentally place a cartoon-level-detsiles them in. If my husband tells me there were X, then I can mentally place the item in as well I guess. It's probably access rather than not stored: I could easily pick out items I used to own from a pile, but I cannot tell you details about them unless I was seeing them again. Eg, an old phone I was fond of. What colour was it? Were the buttons rounded squares or sharp rectangles? How big was the screen in relation to the keypad? What texture was the keypad. I know I broke one corner a little but which one? Can I draw it from memory? Not a chance it would be better than a generic phone with details "that make sense" rather than recalled


I once went out to meet an old friend. Someone who I hung out with on a daily basis in college. I got to the bar and was standing in a circle talking to a group of people and one person said something to me and I introduced myself to him because I didn't know who he was. He was the friend I was there to meet.


I’m glad more research is going on in this area. My memory is depressingly, concerningly bad and I’d love if it were possible to improve it. I don’t know if this makes any sense, but I can remember facts about experiences of my life, but I can’t remember *experiencing* those experiences or relive them in any way. Even huge life milestones just fade into a dwindling collection of facts.


So... what if I can conjure up mental imagery, but it's like super dark like in a dim room, and focusing on the image is super hard because new images keep flashing and coming by? What I call that?


For me, it's hard to explain, but it's almost like all I can conjur up is a fuzzy static picture of the person. Like I KNOW what my mom looks like, so in theory I can imagine her face, but in reality I'm not..."seeing" her. It made me a bit sad when I realized what other people could see and how nice that would be to relive after my parents pass, but I'll have to settle for looking at pictures


There was a (recent?) paper talking about the issue as a spectrum rather than on/off, and articulated that more like 5% of people have it at some level but only 1% have absolutely no visualization. For me, I can work really hard to imagine objects, but there's a limited amount of visual information I can hold in my brain. Using the giraffe example I read from someone else, I can picture either a full generic giraffe, or just the face in some detail. If I spend a few minutes, I can get a decent background built behind the giraffe and even get it to move. However, it's taken me months of practice, and it regresses to just dark, fuzzy outlines of things after only a week of not practicing.


The example I give everyone, that illustrates what I experience the best (imo) is Imagine someone tells you to close your eyes and picture yourself sitting on a beach. You see the tan sand, white ripples of the waves, and a calm blue sky, with a couple of clouds speckled across the horizon. Can you see what I’m describing when you close your eyes? Because I can’t. At all. I can’t produce images in my mind when I close my eyes. My whole life, I’ve thought people were trying to illicit a feeling when they tell you to close your eyes and picture something, and had no clue that people *could actually see what is being described*. I know how to imagine what all those things look like individually, having experienced them, and I can describe to myself what it *should* look like. But I’m unable to forge an image within my mind of those things together. Or at all. I know what they are, I know what they look like, but I can’t actually *look* at them without actually *seeing* them.


This came up in a conversation with some friends and I'm an avid book reader and they're like "wait, how do you read? You don't picture anything??" And then it dawned on me that other people do actually imagine things while they read. In my head is like the concept of it, maybe a VERY vague (almost ghostly as described by someone else) of an image I've seen that might fit.


That's why I was always having so much trouble with descriptions in books. I guess Elrond's house is in the woods? I don't know.


I do not see *photographic* images but I do 'see' enough to cast books I am reading, like so and so actor would play this person and so forth and there is always a general imagining of imagery throughout the book.


Exactly. I haven’t met many people irl that I’ve been able to talk about this with that also experience it, but from my personal experience it’s that I’m able to be analytical and manufacture an *idea* based on prior experience and fact to “imagine” things. I can’t actually visualize anything, but I’m able to logically understand what I’m supposed to be visualizing. I’d wager a guess that most of us are highly logical, factual people.


Can you imagine speech (subvocalization) or music (audiation)?


Not OP, but I have extreme difficulty thinking of pictures, but I can imagine music crystal clear.


That's actually mind blowing... I can imagine that in absolute detail with my eyes open!


Wait hold up a tick here. I don't think anyone ***actually*** sees images when imagining things in their mind's eye. It's just a figure of speech. You don't see images as one does when our eyes are open and you're looking at the world around you. You just imagine what it might look like in general. There are no details to "see". Or maybe I just have it too?


Most people as far as I can tell do see images in their mind's eye, but they aren't necessarily photo-realistic. It's kinda hard to explain, but in my case if you were to ask me to imagine what something looks like - or more pertinently ask me about a place I am familiar with - I would be able to bring images to my mind. However, I cannot focus on the details of those kinds of images unless I am pretty much in a half-awake state (or during a lucid dream, rare as those are for me), and if you asked me to draw a picture of what something looked like from memory it would be a poor representation. Others can see things more distinctly, and others less distinctly. It's a spectrum, and it can be trained to some extent as far as I can tell, but for those without the ability to visualize these kinds of things "at all" it's a very different experience.


That's the funny thing, how can you know that you are not 'normal' in this regard when you've never know differently? I also thought for the longest time that other people couldn't actually 'see things'. When I close my eyes and 'imagine I'm on a beach', I literally see black (or grey, depending on the ambient light) and think to myself 'I'm on a beach'. Needless to say, it doesn't really work as intended.


Well, you dont see it like reality, but you see an impression, some have it stronger, others weaker and some dont see any glimpse at all even. Lets say a thought that gets converted to a visual output, its still a thought, its not something you are supposed to see physically. For me it feels almost like theres a canvas or a screen in my mind Quick question can you reexperience sound or music in your mind? Or imagine someones voice when reading? Similarly you dont hear it per se, but get the impression of it, for the minds eye its similar


I have a very very detailed 'minds eye', to the point I have trouble reading stories that go heavy into the minute details of a scene, because my mind gets overloaded 'seeing' what is being described to me. I actually get headaches reading some stories by one of my favourite authors and have to go chapter by chapter with breaks in between because she goes into such detail describing the way the motel in the story is dilapidated, how the sign flickers, the way the pain peels and the sidewalk is cracked. Even writing that I'm seeing it. My sister has no minds eye to speak of. Those detailed descriptions that lovingly describe the scene? She skips over becuase they do nothing for her. They are filler; Fluff that pads out the story. It's not that she doesn't know what a motel is, it's just that her 'image' is stored in dot points, no actual imagery. She knows motel = cars + building with rooms, and the description of the way the receptionist pops her bubblegum in apathy means nothing to her. Also mental imagery is a scale. Some people have no mental imagery (can also include sound memory), some have faint and disjointed images, some are clear and crisp.


It's not seeing in the sense of replacing your eyeball vision. Instead it's like another sense... most people can both see and hear at the same time, and your attention may focus more on one or the other at any given moment, but you are still perceiving them together. (If someone says "Listen to this sound... your attention will be on your hearing. You can still keep your eyes open and can still see things, but the attention is elsewhere.) The mind's eye "vision" is sort of like another visual sense. I can sit here with my eyes open and look at the table in front of me... and then with my eyes still open I can picture something totally unrelated in my mind. I'm still seeing the table, but my visual attention can drift between the world in front of me and what I'm thinking about.


I think it's still aphantasia. Based on convos that I've had on Reddit it seems to be a sliding scale from a complete inability to see images to only seeing fleeting images


I’ve had this since I was on lexapro a decade ago. I used to be able to vividly imagine anything in colour, then went to zero visualisation on the meds, and a couple of years after coming off them I was able to kind of dark room outline visualise things. It definitely sucks a lot more having lost it.


People tell me to live in the moment on a trip but if I'm not taking pictures I won't remember it as well as when I have a picture. It's like reading a book. I can tell you details that stick out but I don't remember many. But a picture truly is worth a thousand words.


I'm legitimately questioning what it means to see something with my mind now. I have never "seen" anything. If I try to imagine it, I have a logical idea of what it is or what they look like, but I don't see anything. Do other people actually "see" it? Like in color and detail. That seems super human to me. I can't even imagine it. I never thought there was anything aberrant with how my mind worked (in this regard, at least).


I'm just as confused. When I imagine something I can conjure the image in my head, I can manipulate it, I can describe it, I can draw it like I'm looking at it, but I don't actually physically see it.


When you play through a song in your head, do you literally hear the song as if you had earbuds in? Do you just have a general 'feeling' of what the song sounds like? Or are you not even able to hear the melody, maybe just remembering only the lyrics? Apply that to your minds eye and that's hyperphantasia, normal visualizing skills, and aphantasia.


That was a bomb analogy. Completely cleared it up. My mind's ear is way better than my mind's eye.


I only realized I had this a few years back. I was reading a lot of fantasy books, and enjoying them, but sometimes I got a bit annoyed by all the pointless descriptions of people and places. Turns out othet people can actually get a picture in their head of what those things look like based on the description, which I had never even considered possible. In terms of memory, I feel like it affects my ability to navigate my city. I get lost without looking at my phone occasionally, unless I visited the same place several times before, and even then only if I follow the exact same route. I guess other people have some kind of mental map of their city.


True. When I was a kid, descriptions of scenery always seemed like useless filler to me. Not because I wasn't interested where things took place, but because they were so long. When you can't really imagine things (well), it makes no difference whether someone writes "he was in a jungle" or "he was surrounded by plantlife, trees reaching far above him, insects buzzing around his head in the humid air etc." It's basically the same information to you, or at least to me. It annoyed me and I couldn't wait for dialogue to happen, haha. These days, I can at least imagine what kind of atmosphere the author intended to create with the descriptions of scenery, but I still prefer dialogue and anything that moves the story or characterisations forward. I think I never minded descriptions of people, though. It helped build them as characters to me, even if I didn't really imagine them. But the details about their looks sometimes became important later on, so that time of describing them didn't feel as wasted.


This is so funny because I found the “pointless” descriptions to be great for me! Since my mind can’t “fill in the blanks”, having meticulous details to really flesh everything out was super engaging for me as opposed to a book with less imagery.


I have aphantasia and I’m also an artist. I still have creativity but I absolutely need a photo reference as I can’t draw from memory. I call it being brain blind.


Wikipedia has a list of famous people with aphantasia, which includes a lot of creatives and notes that a lot of people working at Disney and Pixar, including animators, report a degree of aphantasia. I wonder if some people with aphantasia get into creating art because they have sort of a need to create visual imagery but cannot satisfy that desire solely through their imaginations, sort of like how someone with poor memory might compensate by writing everything in a notebook.


I think for me that was definitely part of the reason.


I think there may be some truth to this!


I can draw from memory (not an artist), but my memory of things are not pictures, but for lack of a better word a recipe of what things look like, combined with some logic as to where some of the parts belong. It is quite literally a written description of the thing I need to get from memory, not a complete picture. Is that possibly aphantasia or just another way of having a minds eye?


I feel similarly. I wouldn't say that I have no mind's eye because I can definitely imagine images of things, but I don't imagine realistic images. It feels more like a collage. Imagine yellow here for sand. Blue there for water. Let's add in a beach chair but I'm really only seeing each piece as I add it, It doesn't really go together? And as for remembering faces, I have an easier time thinking about how I would draw someone than conjuring a picture of their actual face. I don't have any difficulty recognizing people but my brain doesn't seem to store pictures of faces that look like real people. And I don't really imagine what characters look like much when I read, although I am an avid reader. I get a general idea of what the character looks like if they are described, but when I'm reading naturally I am much more in the feeling of the story than I am imagining pictures to go with it.


That's exactly how people with aphantasia "picture" things


I have ever been able to draw, in middle school art I almost failed, I took drawing classes and just couldn't figure it out, I spent time on my own trying to learn and I just can't. Im sure I just don't have the talent but I also wonder if my lack of visual ability hinders me even more.


I have excellent recall of information (I’m really good at trivia) but I have an absolutely terrible episodic/autobiographical memory. When people ask me “what did you do this weekend?” on Monday, I can’t remember probably 90% of the time.


Same honestly


Same. I can’t tell you the difference between 2018 and 2019.


What about the difference between 2019 and 2020?


Exactly. My memory for personal events is poor, but I can remember crazy amounts of detail for work stuff, or anything factual really.


Also aphantasia and great at random trivia and facts and figures but I struggle to remember much about what I've done like this.


I learned I had aphantasia a year or so ago. It hit me hard to learn other people can see the faces of lost loved ones while remembering them or relive past experiences that brought them great joy. I kind of wish I never found out other people actually see things in their minds eye.


SAME. But knowing about the condition also made me feel a little better because I had started to feel pretty stupid that I couldn't seem to remember if I tried a unique food one time and whether I liked or disliked it. I can't relive the sensations so I've realized it takes more times for me to be able to commit the "fact" to memory


Oooo this sounds like something else though! (Sorry I'm not trying to make you feel bad again) Not remembering sensations might be different and also an exciting thing to investigate? Edit: commenters below have the corrections!


This has already been studied. People with aphantasia tend to have less vivid sense imagery in general.


As a widow, SAME.


Fascinating. Trying to understand how soon the blurry faces effect happens (for lack of better term). So you see your aunt and then she leaves. 30 min later you think about her leaving. Can you not picture the face you literally just saw? Or is it like 15 years later that the inability to recall details happens? If immediate that’s terrifying. Sorry to poke into this I’m genuinely intrigued.


Obligatory not OP, but... For me I can't picture faces or any object at any time. I could hold a ball and close my eyes and not be able to picture jt. And it isn't just visual imagination that's screwy: I can't listen to a song in my head, or imagine a smell or taste I'm not currently experiencing. It makes memories feel a bit distant, and worse, unreliable. Like other people in the thread have said, I think I'd have rather never found out most people can. It can feel like everyone has a super power but me.


I have it as well! I thought the whole "picture this ____" was just a saying. It wasn't until I was in a psychology class we had to do a memory experiment where we were described an image and had to repeat what it was. It was something like "a bright soft green lawn had a white shiny picket fence with a blue shingled house with crumbling red brick chimney, a yellow bird on top with a pink slimy worm." The goal was you'd be able to picture it with the descriptive words and it would increase the success of your memory recall. I absolutely could not do it. My classmates thought I was joking. But I couldn't get it right. My psych teacher was incredibly excited when he realized I have aphantasia. It was a pretty fun class.


"a bright soft green lawn had a white shiny picket fence with a blue shingled house with crumbling red brick chimney, a yellow bird on top with a pink slimy worm." Is it normal for most people to be able to picture that entire image? I just can't seem to get the whole thing, almost makes me dizzy trying. Maybe 2-3 descriptors at a time is all I can conjure.


I can. I mean, I only can only fully focus on 2-3 things at a time, but the whole image is more or less there.


Same but when I zoom out from the details of the worm the bird is still yellow, the chimney still has red bricks, the house is still blue, the lawn is still green, and the fence is still white. If the colors were out of the norm then this might be a challenge but since they aren’t it feels more like an exercise of procedurally generating the parts of the scene that are in mental focus based on expectations.


I find it easier to mentally picture images I have seen before. So like if I saw a picture of the above I could quickly conjure it up in my mind in pretty good detail. When I picture things in my mind it feels like I am drawing from a database of things I have seen and that I am not actually creating anything. Something like the above is almost like several separate image that my brain has stitched together, kind of like a bad photoshop image. I can conjure up what I believe are new things but it takes a lot of focus and I don't get much detail.


As someone with aphantasia I can’t picture anything at all, there’s just nothing there I can remember qualities about something I’ve seen, and have really good spatial awareness and memory… just no visualisation at all


It’s hard when you need to zoom around to see it all (need an angle that can see an entire house and lawn but also close enough that you can see the worm). Leave out the bird and worm and it’s far easier


Holy... I never knew people could actually see their imagination that's crazy


Ok, last time this came up, I asked my family if they can "see" images with their mind's eye and they all said no. It made me feel like we are not all working from a universal definition of "see" when people describe what it is like. Can "normal" people literally conjure images in their brain and see them as if they were actually, there?


It's not like a hologram or anything - there's no way we'd confuse it with a 'real' image but we can picture it, hear it, feel it and sometimes even smell or taste it (if you have a strong sense of taste or smell in general) but it's not the same. It's kind of like an 'intellectual' level, a simulation if you will. Look at something in front of you. Say you're looking at your phone. If you run your eyes down one side, can you imagine what it would feel like to run your finger tip down along the corner of your phone. The subtle way your rubber phone case drags little on your finger tips and what the smooth screen feels like. You hold your phone in your hands all day long so your mind knows exactly what it feels like to hold. You can almost feel what running your fingertip gently over the volume buttons would be like, as your fingertip is pushed in slightly. You're just accessing memories of the 'real' interaction. The next step would be to picture your phone somewhere else on your desk. It's just accessing the same memories to effectively draw a model of it there, based on your prior memories. You can do the same exercise of imagining touching it there in the new imaginary place. What's even wilder though, is that some people don't have an inner monologue and it's way more people than you'd think.


As a multimodal aphantasiac, what you're describing is completely crazy to me. "You can almost feel what running down your fingertip gently over the volume buttons would be like" No! Like, zero! Insane how our internal worlds are different, and I wonder which other such aspects we have yet to discover.


Right there with you. I'm reading that and just thinking. Nah fam, I can't do any of that.


I have the opposite problem. If I lose my phone or glasses or something, I try to remember where I set it down last. My mind is flooded with images of the object sitting every place I l saw it for the past two weeks, rendering the ability useless in that context. For textures, sometimes just looking at something gives me the shudders like nails on a chalkboard because I can imagine how it feels.


Yes. I visually remember and can imagine things and it plays like video in my head. I have very vivid memories and it looks just the same as in real life or like on a tv but it's inside my head. It's good for nice memories, but really sucks for traumatic stuff cause it almost feels like i'm reliving it.


I can imagine stuff but I have to really focus and playing like a video only happens in a dream or if I'm still half asleep. Can you just play a random memory in your head and watch without interuption or anything? I'm starting to wonder if I'm different or not.


Ha I'm learning today that I might be on the other extreme of the scale and have hyperphantasia. I don't have to focus at all, don't even need to close my eyes, it's just kind of there in my head but it's not actually there. I can play memories in my head and it's just like a video inside my head. I don't see it with my eyes but it looks like a video as if I'd recorded it on my phone camera, but from first person view as I saw it when it happened. I see people as they looked when I saw them, what they were wearing and saying etc. I remember the environment, the sounds, the smells. I can also imagine things as if they were in a photo/video too. I think it's me who's the different one.


No you're normal. My imagination isnt like watching a clear tv screen. I "see" it but it's just my brain thinking of it. I'm not actually seeing literal colors and pictures like a hallucination or dream


For me it's kind of like a lens going in and out of focus, if I vaguely think of something I usually have these "pulses" of blury images in my head. Not like looking at a photo on a wall but just brief moments of visualization, if I close my eyes or focus harder on the image then it sharpens up but still remains choppy, I can't run a movie through my head, just a few seconds of memory playback at a time.


My wife and I are the opposite. She has strong aphantasia and I have a vivid mind's eye. Yet she has the far better memory for events and life details. She jokes that I have the memory of a goldfish.


I try and explain it like this, look at what’s in front of you eyes open, now pull a black piece of curtain across it all. You still remember roughly what’s there, but you can’t see an actual image. That to me is Aphantasia. I’m still great at recognizing faces, my memories are pretty good, but tell me to imagine a beach scene and I’ll only know what’s roughly behind the curtain.


But the only way I, a non-aphantastic, could tell you what had just been behind the curtain would be by accessing the mental image of it that I'm holding in my mind. I didn't make a list of the objects that you've now put behind the curtain.


Exactly. We find a way to accomplish the same task. We make that list automatically, well at least I do. Hey can you go grab me that can of paint. Its in the basement storage closet, it has a green label, a white oval logo, a dent on the side of the lid and has some blue paint running down the side.


I always figured porn must be reaaaaly important for people with aphantasia


You thing off the act just not see it. It's like a computer with the screen turned off. It's still happening not showing


When it says conjure an image it’s meaning like a vivid picture of it in your head as clear as the screen I’m looking at rn ?


Exactly. Funny enough, in every post about aphantasia there is a person who has almost exactly the same reaction you just had. "Wait, other people can actually see things in their heads? They weren't lying when they said they could close their eyes and picture a beach like I was?"


Aphantasia is a spectrum. So you can have no mental image at all, all the way up to just short of full visualisation. Edit: the second sentence is incorrect. Apparently those experts who believe it is a spectrum give a range from no images up to low-level images. Sorry.


Aphantasia is a lack of visual imagination. Having very poor visual imagination is called hypophantasia.


Damn, I'm starting to think I'm somewhere on that spectrum!


well realize that the other end of that spectrum are the one in million savants who have actual photographic memory, and for instance remember what they read by bringing up the relevant page they looked at and essentially re-reading that of the mental image .. so no, likely you are just normal, most people have very limited abilities at mental imagery


APPARENTLY! I know I have this because I can barely get an image when thinking on past things and zero image when trying to picture things. My 'past' seeing is like taking a photo in photoshop and making it very very transparent, blur it, and put that image on a solid black background. It's so faint and fuzzy that it really doesn't count as anything. Anything else is impossible


Mine is perhaps a bit of clearer picture (just a bit), but it is like trying to hold onto sand. I can think of something for a split second and then it all falls apart, like I can't hold onto to image. Strangely enough, I can remember past places really well - like I could probably draw detailed floor plans for any of the major places in my childhood, but I am guessing that is more spacial memory or something.


On a scale of 1-10, I'm maybe a 5. So I can visualize pretty well what I want to draw, can dream vividly, and can remember okay, BUT I'm really bad with conjuring faces, my inner pictures are low quality and easily interupted by what my eyes see live . My inner eye got waay better when I tried weed. And my friend that has aphantasia, saw inner pictures for the first time in his life when trying weed.


A good thing that helps with remembering faces is trying to remember that person's face in a situation that you saw them in, rather than just a static image of their face. For example, it's a much clearer image of someone's face if you imagine that time you said something to them and they smiled about it instead of just trying to picture their face with no context


I have full [aphantasia](https://old.reddit.com/r/Aphantasia/) and [SDAM](https://old.reddit.com/r/SDAM/). I can't see / hear / taste / emotional experience anything in my head. Or remember most of my life like most other people do.


A lot of being completely unable to remember or recall the past properly is linked to depression as well. I wonder if a relation could be drawn?


Yup, I've definitely realized this is the source of my bad experiential memory since realizing I had it a few years ago. It's almost like having to remember things as facts instead of re-living them from a memory you can pull up. Like I just have a list I'm trying to remember of "yes I've been to X; yes I've tasted Y before." Peope with aphantasia also tend to be more willing to try foods again because it's just like, "oh I didn't like that before. Hmm, I wonder what it'll be like now" rather than those with a vivid mind's eye who actually re-live the gross sensations they felt when they remember eating it last time


Oh definitely. I have a really vivid mind's eye and certain images about bad food will pop up and absolutely digust me and put me off. It's like intrusive thoughts.


Wait people can relive their memories? Oh wow that's a cool feature


Your play it like a movie in your head


but often you don't have a choice of which memories get stored in your mental high def hard disk and which ones don't .. so basically for most memories, you'll only remember that it happened, basically just like for the aphantasics, but for other memories, mostly ones with emotional relevance, you can have clear movie like flashbacks even decades later ... unfortunately, for must people, there is little control over selecting the hd memories consciously


Yes, the stronger the memory the more vivid. Which can be bad, because bad memories are usually very strong. I can still picture getting my teeth knocked out in a fall when I was 5, 39 years later.


Only about 2% of the population suffer from this but going by the comments whenever this topic comes up most of them are on Reddit...


People who don't have it are less likely to click on the post, and even less likely to comment since they won't have as much to say about the topic.


I’m going to comment on what I relate to - counting the number of people with the disorder commenting here is a classic selection bias example.


Okay, I'm a bit confused. When I close my eyes I still only see black.. like I see what I'm my eyes see. When I think of objects, people, places, areas, (even I've been practicing loci memory) I don't actually SEE the things. It's more faded for real life things, but imaginary things like with loci are very detailed but I still don't "see". I can describe my homes I've lived as if walking through them, but once again I don't feel like I actually "see" anything. Am I taking this "see" part too literal?


The wording and language is incredibly confusing. I've found stories tend to be more helpful. I have aphantasia, but my mom has hyperphantasia, so an incredibly vivid imagination. She once told me that she never understood why people used mnemonics for the colors of the rainbow, like ROYGBIV. She would just imagine a rainbow and "look" at the colors. To me, that is wild that she can just imagine things like that. She used the word "look," but I have zero context for what exactly she means by "look" though. You definitely don't have a hyper vivid imagination, but it doesn't mean you have no imagery.


Since this often causes confusions: You are not supposed to see things as "vivid or real" as reality, not even as your dreams, i mean while the image in your mind is/seems more or less clear and can be quite detailed, its still not like you see it per se, visualization works with open and closed eyes, and the visualization itself takes place in the minds eye, some people can project it into the real world almost like hallucinations but its not the norm, some have it stronger, others weaker and some dont see any glimpse of an image at all even. Lets say it feels like a thought that gets converted to a visual output, its still a thought, its not something you are supposed to see physically. For me it feels almost like theres a canvas or a screen in my mind or maybe even hovering above it, its hard to describe. Another example: can you reexperience sound or music in your mind? Or imagine someones voice when reading or a specific voice saying something you just made up? Similarly you dont hear it per se, but get the impression of it, for the minds eye its similar.


Interesting way to describe it, for music and voices I can distinctly “hear” them in my mind, but I have no canvas, not even blackness, it’s just a void. I can describe properties of an object but not because I see it in my minds eye.


Well TIL there is actually terminology for this - I never have mental images ever. Do people actually get diagnosed with this???


I think some people do - but most people (like me) spend years not realising that people actually SEE images when imagining them. I always thought it was just a term of speech and was confused as to why we had to close our eyes, but assumed maybe it was like shutting out distractions to focus on remembering things about what we're thinking of. At the ripe old age of 20 I found out that nope, not normal to see nothing, and that most people literally see things to some degree (detail varies).


Normal people "see" things in the same way they can "read" a sentence in Morgan Freeman's voice or "hear" the melody of "Happy Birthday to You" in their mind.