does that exist? Yes. People who cannot have fantasies suffer from a strange condition. It is aphantasia. It was first described in the 19th century, specifically in 1880. Carriers are unable to visualize images in their mind. A new study makes it possible to detect this condition through the eye. There was no diagnostic test to corroborate the condition. Until now.
Australian scientists tested whether pupil dilation was related to this. To prove it, they conducted an experiment. Tests were conducted with a group of people that included those who self-perceived themselves as having aphantasia.
Both groups were asked to view images with dark and lighter shapes on a gray background. Both groups showed regular pupil dilation responses. They were then asked to imagine the same images with their eyes open. The pupils of the people in the first healthy group contracted and expanded. In those suffering from aphantasia, they did not change size significantly.
“Pupils respond to the intensity and strength of a visual image held in mind. The more vivid that image is, the greater the pupillary light response,” the authors state. This provides an unbiased tool for diagnosing aphantasia, since the pupil’s response to light is involuntary.
“We are close to an objective physiological test,” assures the study’s lead author, psychologist Joel Pearson. He works at the University of New South Wales in Australia. The research was published in the eLife.
The ability to form mental images not only helps with fantasies and dreams. It also helps many of the important functions that our brain can perform. Thanks to this process, information can be retrieved from long and short term memory. In addition, it is also used to learn a language. And even for the sense of orientation and spatial planning. People who cannot have fantasies have greater difficulties because of this.