Revisiting the past and imagining the future is harder with a blind mind's eye

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Peer-reviewed: This work was reviewed and scrutinised by relevant independent experts.

Observational study: A study in which the subject is observed to see if there is a relationship between two or more things (eg: the consumption of diet drinks and obesity). Observational studies cannot prove that one thing causes another, only that they are linked.

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Imagine this -  a warm sunny day from your childhood playing at the beach. Can you picture it? If you can't you might have a condition called aphantasia – which is a lack of visual imagination ability, and researchers at UNSW have found that people with this condition find it harder to revisit the past and imagine the future.  In the study, people with aphantasia described less visual detail about past events and imagined future events but not less details of other non visual aspects such as time, place, or emotion. The authors say this shows the first time that aphantasia is associated with a reduced ability to remember and imagine events across time. 

Journal/conference: Cognition

Link to research (DOI): 10.1016/j.cognition.2022.105192

Organisation/s: The University of New South Wales

Funder: This work was supported by Australian NHMRC grants APP1046198 and APP1085404; J. Pearson’s Career Development Fellowship APP1049596; and an ARC discovery project DP140101560. A. Dawes is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship.


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