When you think of a person you know in your mind can you see them crystal clear? What if you were to try and envision the little blemishes and birthmarks that person might have. Is it accurate? If it is, consider yourself lucky because some people can’t do this at all.
This phenomenon was brought to light first by a developer of Mozilla Firefox internet browser, Blake Ross. Blake Ross was first intrigued by the topic when he was reading about a man who lost this ability after surgery. It was at this time when he realized that his thought and imagination process was very different than the people around him. This epiphany made him realize that he can’t imagine the way something looks, he completely lacks visual imagery. To explore this further, researchers used a process called binocular rivalry.
Binocular rivalry is when perceptions are altered between two different images presented to one eye at a time. Participants wore 3D red and blue glasses where one eye sees a blue image and the other sees a red. While most people see a mixture of red and blue images, people like Ross only see one or the other. Research shows that visual imagery involves a network of brain activity from the frontal cortex to the brain stem. Some theories propose that when we imagine something, we reactivate the part of our brain that perceived it in the beginning.
They might be blessed in an area where they consider themselves cursed also. This is because people who have increased abilities to imagine visually also tend to have higher instances of PTSD, addiction, and anxiety disorders.
In the late 1800’s, a British scientist Sir Francis Galton researched this by asking colleagues and the general population to describe the quality of the internal imagery. His studies were found to rely on self-reports, but they also depended on the person’s ability to assess their own mental processes. This is called introspection and many researchers believe that Phantasia may actually cause one to lose this ability.
All in all, introspection is important to know if things are functioning properly. We need to be able to zone out and identify our thought processes to understand them. However, some phenomenon such as mental blindness is still just a phenomenon. It’s rare, intriguing, and might even be a sign of spiritual significance. How well can you imagine objects in your head? Can you see the detail of them or do you struggle to even visualize it entirely?