via My Brain Institute

Could you imagine not being able to dream or imagine things? You would think this is impossible but is actually a strange condition that about 5% of the world’s population suffers from. Aphantasia can be described as a pathology characterized by the lack of ability to create images inside the mind, but usually can perceive them through the normal senses. Also, people with this disorder can have a hard time when it comes to distinguishing faces or colors.

It is commonly called a “blind mind”, and most people don’t even realize they have aphantasia until they discuss it with someone else, since this is the only thing they know. The biggest study of aphantasia done yet included 250 people, and it had some surprising results.

It seems like this could also affect some cognitive processes that involve a visual sensory component, such as dreaming, remembering, and of course, imagining. When talking about a memory, they describe it as a feeling that they do know what they are thinking of, but they are completely unable to picture it.

Still, some people can have other multisensory aspects affected, namely, taste, scent, movement, touch, and even emotions. However, something that catches the attention is the fact that factors related to space-time, such as distance, aren’t affected at all.

This disorder would be one of the main proof that vision, perception, and memory are more related than we originally thought. Most people don’t care that much about having aphantasia, since they have lived all of their lives with it, but others suffer every day in desperation.

Science still doesn’t know what exactly causes a person to have aphantasia, but they have confirmed that on some occasions when a person suffered a brain injury, their ability to imagine or picture things in their head has been highly reduced. Some hypotheses say that it could be hereditary.

There is a lot more to know about aphantasia, even though it was first described in the XIX century. It is a very complex condition since it defies all of the known basic principles of the human mind.

Though it may sound like it is a life-changing condition, people with aphantasia have a totally normal life. Many important people had been successful with aphantasia, like Ed Catmull, the former president of Pixar, or Blake Ross, one of the creators of Mozilla Firefox.

Funny enough, there is an opposite condition called hyperphantasia, where people have an incredibly stimulated mind that allows them to have very lucid dreams, and they can imagine anything they want. Still, most people don’t know if they have hyperphantasia.