People without sensations have become the object of research: the brain does not see or hear

People without sensations have become the object of research: the brain does not see or hear

Recent research helps to better understand how the world is perceived by people who a priori do not have visual or auditory sensations. Experts called this psychophysical state “deep aphantasia.”

Can you imagine seeing something in your mind? Can you hear your inner voice when you think or read? One of the participants in the new study, Lauren Bouyer, can't do any of this. She has a condition that scientists describe as "profound aphantasia" in a new paper in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Both authors of the published study suffer from aphantasia - they are unable to experience imaginary visual experiences. Aphantasia is often described as “brain blindness.” But often people suffering from this phenomenon cannot have other imaginary experiences. Thus, a person suffering from aphantasia may have a blind and deaf mind or a blind and tasteless mind.

The researchers decided to share what it's like to have this psychophysical condition using simple examples. Most people can hear an inner voice when they think, and the voice will also "speak" in languages ​​that the person knows.

The consciousness of a person with aphantasia is structured differently. Neither of them can imagine visual sensations, but Derek Arnold can imagine auditory sensations, and Lauren Bouyer can imagine touch sensations. For them, thoughts are like a different set of “internal languages.”

Some aphantasia sufferers report not experiencing any imaginary sensations. What might their mental experience be like? The researchers were able to explain: Lauren can experience imaginary sensations from touch, but it takes effort for her to experience them.

Most people, as noted earlier, can mentally listen to their speech before speaking out loud, but often they do not. People can enter into conversations without listening to themselves.

As for Lauren Bouyer, she writes and speaks without any prior knowledge of the content of what is written. Sometimes she pauses, realizing that she is not yet ready to add something more, and continues when she feels ready.

What about planning? The researcher perceives this as a combination of imagined textures, body movements, and recognizable states of mind.

Once the plan is complete, there is a feeling of completion. Planned speech is a sequence of imagined lip movements, gestures, and postures. Her artistic designs are perceived as textures. She never perceives an imaginary sound or visual description of her intended actions.

Unlike Bouye, Derek Arnold's thoughts are entirely verbal. Until recently, he had no idea that other ways of thinking were possible.

Some aphantasia sufferers report random, involuntary imaginary sensations, often related to unpleasant past experiences. they may become frustrated by other people's attempts to explain the experience. One suggestion is that people with aphantasia may imagine visual experiences but are unable to describe them.

Recently, researchers discussed an experiment. Buie suggested acting out a scenario in which people were asked to imagine that they saw a black cat with its eyes closed.

“We thought it might be difficult to see an imaginary black cat against the blackness of closed eyes. The only person in the room who could imagine the visual experience began to laugh. Most people seem to find it easy to imagine seeing black cats even when their eyes are closed,” the scientists explained.

Researchers believe that aphantasia occurs when activity in the front of the brain does not produce activity in areas closer to the back of the brain. This kind of “feedback” is necessary for people to be able to imagine events.

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