Thinking about thoughts (and memories) [split from chat]

I’m pretty sure that’s me. 3D object visualization? Mental time travel? Yes.

To me, that’s just a standard Snowflake brainstorming technique. Nothing special.

I mostly use the technique for world building. Say there’s an encampment. How do they build the houses? Where do people walk around in it and are there any worn paths shown to depict them? Not in most movies, thus ruining the experience.


I guess that for obvious reasons IF players and coder are apt to picture things in their minds, so I’m a bit surprised that some fellow of this forum has aphantasia…

(I think that the brain is the most fast & powerful renderer/GPU, go figure…)

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


On the contrary I guess IF comes very handy because their thinking is non-visual. So it kind of fits.


I’ve been a player of text-based games for over forty years. And was an avid reader in my teens.

However, I am aphantasic so I have no mental images in my head at all while I’m playing adventures, writing adventures or reading. I have no idea what places in books look like. I always thought it was odd when people complained a character in a tv show or film adaptation didn’t look like what was in the novel. :slight_smile:

It’s only recently that I’ve realised my aphantasia is why I don’t have any affinity for Infocom games, or any other verbose text adventures. Whenever I read, I naturally skip over any heavily descriptive passage; my brain seems to filter that out and just picks out the dialogue and events in the story.

Dreams are a weird one… It’s really hard to describe your own experiences when you feel you don’t have any shared frame of references with others. I think I may “see” things when I’m dreaming. It feels real. But I don’t feel like I’m looking out of my eyes, although the events are happening to me. The half-state, drifting in and out of sleep, is probably the only time I sort of understand what people mean when they say they can see things in their head.

(I still find it very difficult to believe that people actually picture stuff in their head. It sounds very frightening. But also it did make me quite depressed when I found out about aphantasia because I feel like I’ve been missing out on something all my life. I can’t close my eyes and bring people back to life like other people describe. I can’t see their faces or hear their voices. Which is just incredibly sad.)


I can form mental images, but if I’m not recalling a specific visual memory the images are dim and vague - I’m rate myself somewhere between a 3 and 4 on the aphantasia scale above.

I also rarely remember my dreams.

My mental experiences are mostly in words… only without the words. The conceptual associations without the patterned sounds or written symbols, just the meaning. As though it were possible to look at a page of text and slowly fade out the text, leaving only the ideas behind.


I recall memories very similarly to “watching” the experience over: sight and hearing are just as vivid and I find that I recall specific visual details very well - someone’s facial expression or the colour of their shirt, for instance. Smell, taste, and touch is where things get a little strange for me, since my synesthesia doesn’t “carry over” from the live experience to the memory of it. So where I might experience a conversation with a friend as tasting of orange, the memory of it would be a little flatter without the sensation of taste in the recall.

What happens most often is I will remember the associated taste/scent of a phrase from the conversation and because I know what other sensory perceptions those words are linked to in my brain, I recall them in a slightly “preserved” version of themselves. It’s a bit like recognising the taste of orange from tinned mandarins, or fresh milk from evaporated.


Everything you just said is a perfect explanation of what I have as well. So I’m not alone!


“We are all useless alone. Good thing you’re not alone.”
– Evelyn Wang, Everything Everywhere All at Once

1 Like