A Huge Thanks

This is a bit egocentrical, but here we go.

I want to thank Mr. Hawkins for his insight regarding reference frames.
Through coincidence I learned about the Theory of a thousand brains last week at the same time I learned about the phenomenon of Aphantasia, which I apparently witness in my own mind.
I was always in conflict with myself regarding my huge disinterest concerning new visual input, i.e. going on a trip. Because I just can’t imagine the beach or the mountains in my head afterwards and have never understood the nostalgia of my familymembers and their lostness in nostalgia when talking about the things that they have seen.
At the same time I have to tell you, that I am a gradstudent with a good grasp for mathematics and spatial thinking. The way I understand the world seems to be,as I learned thanks to Mr. Hawkins by pure manipulation of reference frames. When I imagine an object or a movement I only get this feeling of the size and the possible trajectories, no pictures, just pure reference frames. It was a huge insight for my life and brings me alot of inner peace.


Hello Marc, welcome to the forum.

This is interesting. Could you go a little deeper into the subject?

Would that mean for instance that you experience some difficulties to navigate streets? When I have to find my way back in a new environment, I try to consciously remember landmarks, like particular store fronts or striking features in parks. Is that something you can’t do for instance? And if so, how do you find your way around a new area?

I also wonder if aphantasia comes in grades. Do some people suffer more and others less of it, or is it a binary condition.

Thanks for sharing.

[Edit] Apparently prof. Adam Zeman, who published research about it, developed a questionnaire to assess the severity. So I guess it is gradual.


Hello Falco,

thank you for your interest.
From what I have red the degree of details from mental images can really differ from mind to mind.
And in my understanding it is called aphantasia, when you really dont see anthing, so that classification might be binary. And I have red, that some people are subject to similiar phenomenons, but not with visual information, but with all the other senses. Some do not have an inner monologue. That one really boggles my mind.

I really do have a hard time with learning new locations. When I navigate I dont really imagine anything. It is a diffuse feeling of “I have been here before” for non-every day places. For places of my everyday life I can really well feel the, thanks Mr. Hawkins, reference frames. I know where the houses and objects have to be and in what relation they stand to oneanother. I can picture these relations in my head, but I dont see anything doing this. Additional informations like color are saved in linguistic registers. I decribe the overlay of the reference frames to myself with words.
Also Faces can be a problem. With my last girlfriend I really often just could not identify her face. Which made her very upset when I ignored her in public places where we met by chance. Lol.

I tried to come up with metaphor describing the underlying feeling I have about this:
It is as if you are computing a function, but do not visualize the plot.
So the functionality is there, but I do not witness it.


Oh, ok. Good point. Thx.

This is really interesting.

I had no idea, but it makes sense. (This can help me understand other people’s reactions in certain situations).

One more question if you don’t mind, and I’m sorry if this sounds like a lab experiment:

What happens if someone rearranged the objects in your kitchen, or your desk. Or moved your tv by let’s say twenty centimeter. I suppose you notice it, but you say you remember in reference frames. Does it feel like a specific scale or number is wrong?

Also, I just noticed I misspelled a word by the way it looked. (I dubble-checked it in google and indeed it was wrong). I suppose you don’t have that, but does correct spelling somehow make mathematical sense? Or do you have another trick that works very personally for you?


Offering my interior features for comparison.

No internal monologue, not even a little. I find the idea very weird.

No sub-vocalization while reading. (Awesome for reading fast)
Related, I know people that do sub-vocalize and they seem to get more from things like poems and poetry. That leaves me cold. A coworker loves the passages in Tolkien where the characters sing or herald - I find those same passages mostly annoying.

I find it almost impossible to form an idea of characters or dress from a written description.

I find it very hard to remember or recognize faces.

I have fairly vivid dreams in that state between waking and sleeping.

Reading music, I get no sounds, only the mechanical instructions of what notes to press, somewhat like typing, but I can recall musical phrases from just about any song I have ever heard. My song recognition from snippets seems to be better than most people I know. (I call the tune long before most other people sort out what it is)

Comparing notes with other people, I don’t have much in the way of internal visualization. My internal images are mostly not recalled, they are formed by assembling known features; they tend to be very fragmented. I find it VERY helpful to draw something so I can see it.

I think that my mental rotation is functional, and working out relationships in drawings and technical material seems to be good.

I navigate by landmarks and turns. If I see a building from an odd angle and don’t recognize it as my landmark I miss the turn and end up lost. I was once in the Foshay tower observation deck and was looking over my childhood stomping grounds. I was amazed to see that some things that I thought were very far apart were in fact a few block apart, in one case, on the opposite side of the same block. My mental map was somehow built up from landmarks, turns, and perceived distances. Streets that don’t run at right angles, and streets that are not oriented north-south/east-west are deadly to my success at navigation.


Do you know that until ~15 century it was a rarity for person not moving their lips when reading (i.e. everybody was sub-vocalizing).

Also ppl remember better if they vocalize … seems like short term memory is more atune to sound


You should probably look also into the explanation of WHAT and the WHERE pathways

Interesting. So, I guess it depends on at what age people learned reading. If it’s early enough, sub-vocalization is replaced by something like text sub-visualization? Maybe @Bitking learned coding so early and intensely that instruction sub-recall displaced most other sub- things?

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