Brain connections cause some people to have no visual images


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New research has revealed that people with the ability to visualize vividly have a stronger connection between their visual network and the brain regions linked to decision-making. The study also sheds light on the differences in memory and personality between those with strong visual images and those who cannot have an image in the eyes of their mind.

The research, from the University of Exeter, published in Cerebral cortex communications, sheds new light on why it is estimated that three percent of the population does not have the ability to visualize. This phenomenon was named “aphantasia” by Professor Adam Zeman of the University of Exeter in 2015, Professor Zeman called those with highly developed visuals “hyperfantasy” skills.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the study is the first systematic neuropsychological and brain imaging study of people with aphantasia and hypephantasia. The team performed MRI scans on 24 people with aphantasia, 25 with hyperphantasia and of 20 people with mid-range image intensity. They combined image data with cognitive and detailed .

Explorations revealed that people with hyperfantasy have a stronger connection between the visual network that processes what we see and becomes active during visual imaging and the prefrontal cortices, involved in decision-making and attention. These stronger connections were evident in the explorations performed during the break, while participants relaxed and possibly wandered through the mind.

Despite equivalent scores on standard memory tests, Professor Zeman and the team found that people with hyperfantasy produce richer descriptions of imagined scenarios than controls, which in turn outperformed the fantastic ones. This also applied to autobiographical memory or the ability to remember events that have happened in the person’s life. Ghosts also had a lower ability to recognize faces.

Personality tests revealed that ghosts tended to be more introverted and hyperfantastics more open.

Professor Zeman said: “Our research indicates for the first time that a weaker connection between the parts of the brain responsible for vision and the frontal regions involved in decision-making and attention leads to aphantasia. “This is a different way of experiencing the world. Many fantastic people have great performance, and now we want to explore whether the differences in personality and memory we’ve observed indicate contrasting ways of processing information.” , linked to the ability of visual images. “

The study is titled “Behavioral and Neural Signatures of Vividness Extremes: Aphantasia vs. Hyperphantasia” and is published in Cerebral cortex communications.

Aphantasia paves the way for a scientific career

More information:
Fraser Milton et al, Behavioral and neural signatures of Vividness Extremes visual images: Aphantasia versus Hyperphantasia, Cerebral cortex communications (2021). DOI: 10.1093 / texcom / tgab035

Citation: Brain connections mean some people don’t have visual images (2021, June 9) retrieved June 9, 2021 at .html

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