While aphantasia was has been recognized in medicine since the 1800s, the mechanics behind it have never been fully explained.
When someone with aphantasia tries to imagine something, they simply cannot and instead see a dark void. Neuroscientist and author of Source Tara Swart, MD, Ph.D., explain that aphantasia is complex and its effects on everyone can be different.
For example, she said that it could also manifest as an inability to recognize faces, forming visual memories, or imagine something new that you’ve never seen before.
Swart added that the condition is “unrelated to intelligence or any other neurological syndrome.”
One explanation for why apnea can occur is related to childbirth and brain development, Swart said. “During childbirth, when the brain has not differentiated yet […] Really babies have a bunch of little brush strokes. “
Because of their neural resilience, she explains, an infant’s brain is often able to adapt and build more nerve cells after those strokes. But in the case of aphantasia, “That little path that involves visual imagery or visualization doesn’t work.”
Currently, there is no cure for this condition. But with the right knowledge and tools, people with aphantasia can still thrive.