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Old 01-19-2019, 10:41 AM
JakeRS JakeRS is offline
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Do you do "image streaming" visualization with your mind or phosphenes?

I'm trying to improve my visualizing skills, which are on the lowest possible level, I think it's called Aphantasia and it's hard or impossible to imagine things in meaningful detail for me.

To fix this, I found an exercise called image streaming, in which you close your eyes and record yourself on a smartphone and say whatever you see and the idea is that more that you do this, the more you will see after each time. One thing I don't totally understand is whether I am supposed to say only things that I see being made out of the phosphenes (glowy patches of light behind closed eyelids) or am I also supposed to talk about things that my mind imagines normally, like when my eyes are open?

I tried just looking at phosphenes for 10, 20 minutes several times, occasionally I get some more vivid blue colors to appear out of phosphenes and more intense lights and shapes, but it's never good enough, while sometimes I don't see absolutely anything, no matter how long I wait and look, so was I supposed to look at things my mind imagines as well or only at things that are being formed out of those phosphenes?
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Old 01-19-2019, 10:47 AM
naita naita is offline
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I haven't heard of it, but my immediate assumption is that you are supposed to do the thing that you are trying to improve. Imagine things in your mind, not play caleidoscope with your phosphenes.

This site seems to agree:
Quote:
Describe What You See In Your Mind Out Loud
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Old 01-19-2019, 11:26 AM
JakeRS JakeRS is offline
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Some people mention phosphenes and that if you don't see anything, that you should rub your eyes gently to have phosphenes appear, so that leads me to believe that it's just about the phosphenes, but it could be a combination of both.

My ultimate goal is to visualize my dreams for lucid dreaming, there's several ways of entering lucid dreams (being aware inside a dream and controlling it) that require you to visualize your previous dreams or a place where you would like to go, however I can hardly do that, so perhaps improving visualization when I'm fully awake could improve my visualizing when I'm trying to do those lucid techniques.

I can to some degree visualize things in my mind ("mind's eye" I guess), for example I can kind of imagine a local shop I go to, but I don't see it in front of me when I close my eyes, it's not made out of phosphener or whatever, I instead see it just in my mind, like when I am remembering this, so is that the area I need to work with?
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Old 01-21-2019, 12:09 AM
bluezooky bluezooky is offline
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I do not see aphantasia as a condition or something you suffer from that can or should be cured, I have it however it doesn't affect me at all the dream state.

Seeing a blue dot when your relaxed is a common experience in meditation, you might see specific symbols in a particular order but I don't ascribe any special significance to them other than an indication of whether the brain in alpha delta or theta state.
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Old 01-21-2019, 01:18 AM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is offline
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The website of the guy who developed this technique is here, on which I see the phospheme technique (which I'm guessing is where you're looking too?)

Based on my experiences of being a 99% non-visualiser, I have to say none of his page gives me that much confidence that he has actual experience in moving people from being non-visualisers to visualisers - especially the bits where he pretty much assumes that 'oh, you're probably actually visualising all the time but you just didn't notice it! Or you didn't think it was worth mentioning!'

If your core interest is lucid dreaming, I don't actually think that having stronger visual imagination has any necessary connection to that in any case. Have you tried looking for non-visual lucid-dream encouraging strategies? One that I've heard of is to train yourself into the habit of asking "am I dreaming right now?" frequently during your waking hours - with the hope being that this will carry over into your dream life, where the answer will be "yes"

Do your dreams already have visuals, by the way?
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Old 01-21-2019, 08:29 PM
lynne-42 lynne-42 is offline
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I have only known that aphantasia exists for a few weeks, and that I had it. I had no idea that most people see actual images when they visualise. I thought that was just a metaphor for seeing things. This article was an absolute shock for me.

https://theconversation.com/blind-in...gination-86849

People I talk to are shocked that I can't see images. It's been a fortnight of revelation and I felt ripped off that I can't see proper images and most people do. I do memory training and have entered memory competitions, so can do all that 'visualisation' and use memory palaces, but it is not the same. I don't have the words to express my "images" which are more like blurred concepts than actual pictures.

I would love to be able to develop the skill. I have glimpsed real images in my mind's eye when I had night terrors - lucid dreams of spiders crossing my bed as I was falling asleep. It led to such horrors each night that I ended up curing my arachnophobia and slowly they ceased. They certainly ceased to scare me as much.

I really want proper images and to be able to visualise properly!

I don't see it as a disability as much as a normal variation and there will be advantages. I gather aphantasics are less likely to suffer traumatic stress episodes because we can't relay events vividly. I'm still on the discovery trail on this one.

Last edited by lynne-42; 01-21-2019 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 01-21-2019, 09:28 PM
jackdavinci jackdavinci is offline
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Sustainable lucid visualization takes more practice than I've been able to put in as of yet, but I have played around with it enough to have lucked into higher level experience from time to time. I think the parallel between regular and lucid dreaming is pretty apt, the comparisons to levels of waking visualization are very similar.

I had never heard of the phospheme technique, but I have noticed if my visualization was particularly strong, it starts having an effect on my phosphemes. But it hadn't occurred to me to try somehow working it in the opposite direction. But I would think, getting leverage at whatever part of the process happens to be easiest for you already is the way to go.

Some things I haven't seen mentioned yet, that may be useful to keep in mind as potential factors:

1) There's different phosphemes. There's the flashy geometric patterns you see when putting pressure on your eyeballs, which are dramatically interesting but I'm guessing aren't helpful, and there's the more passive ones you see with eyes closed which look kind of like an abstract screensaver, sort of specular dust clouds. Those ones, typically for me seem basically random in their motion most of the time, but if I'm in that lucid state they seem to start gravitating toward what I'm seeing.

2) There seems to be some correlation with actual focusing. If you wear glasses that could indicate an obstacle. Also, beyond whatever connection phosphemes have to visualization, they can serve a secondary purpose as the perfect sort of stimulus for training focus.

3) Usually when I do manage the lucid state, I get a very similar feeling in my head as when falling asleep or just waking up. It is probably advantageous to pay attention to that feeling in order to better at activating it while awake.

Last edited by jackdavinci; 01-21-2019 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 01-21-2019, 11:27 PM
lynne-42 lynne-42 is offline
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How interesting. I look forward to further updates.
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Old 01-22-2019, 01:31 AM
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Phosphenes have nothing whatsoever to do with the way most people visualize things. There is a reason it's called the "mind's eye" - it's not the physical eye.

See this article - and especially the comments and discussions below:

Experience: I can't picture things in my mind


A couple more good articles on aphantasia:

When the Mind’s Eye Is Blind
Imagine a dog. Got it? I don’t. Here’s what it’s like to be unable to visualize anything.

Last edited by GreenWyvern; 01-22-2019 at 01:34 AM.
  #10  
Old 01-22-2019, 11:23 AM
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Hermitian Hermitian is offline
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About this article:

He can't imagine any figures or images whatsoever. Got it, sort of. But then..
He can't remember any sounds or music.
He can't recall what any texture feels like (e.g. velcro).
He can't recall any smells or any tastes.

This goes beyond visualization. Do all Aphantasia have these limitations?

Your knowledge/memory of the world is so central to who you are, I am struggling to imagine his human experience.

Last edited by Hermitian; 01-22-2019 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 01-22-2019, 12:55 PM
markn+ markn+ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeRS View Post

My ultimate goal is to visualize my dreams for lucid dreaming, there's several ways of entering lucid dreams (being aware inside a dream and controlling it) that require you to visualize your previous dreams or a place where you would like to go, however I can hardly do that, so perhaps improving visualization when I'm fully awake could improve my visualizing when I'm trying to do those lucid techniques.
As you say, there are a number of techniques to help induce lucid dreams, and not all of them involve visualization. If visualization is difficult for you, I wonder why you don't just try some of the techniques which don't require it? I've successfully achieved lucidity in the past, but I don't think any of the methods I tried involved visualizations. The one that seemed to work best for me was to just repeatedly ask myself during the day "Is this a dream?" I also tried setting an alarm to wake myself during the night (really didn't like that one) and writing down my dreams on wakening. If lucid dreaming is your goal, it seems to me that it would be easier to try techniques that don't require visualization skills, rather than to acquire those skills.
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Old 01-22-2019, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
About this article:

He can't imagine any figures or images whatsoever. Got it, sort of. But then..
He can't remember any sounds or music.
He can't recall what any texture feels like (e.g. velcro).
He can't recall any smells or any tastes.

This goes beyond visualization. Do all Aphantasia have these limitations?

Your knowledge/memory of the world is so central to who you are, I am struggling to imagine his human experience.
Yeah, I was reading along with slowly growing amazement at the differences between his inner world and mine, and then I reached this sentence which stopped me cold:
Quote:
And I've never had a song "stuck" in my head.
Wow.
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Old 01-23-2019, 12:06 AM
lynne-42 lynne-42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
About this article:

He can't imagine any figures or images whatsoever. Got it, sort of. But then..
He can't remember any sounds or music.
He can't recall what any texture feels like (e.g. velcro).
He can't recall any smells or any tastes.

This goes beyond visualization. Do all Aphantasia have these limitations?

Your knowledge/memory of the world is so central to who you are, I am struggling to imagine his human experience.
No. I don't have those limitations at that sort of extreme. It's just what's in front of me when I close my eyes and imagine (or even keep them open) is just grey / brown mushy space which varies slightly with light - brighter if I am out in the sun, for example. But there are no pictures. I imagine in blurred nondescript images of sorts which feel like they are in the back of my head so I can't actually see them. I can't sense velcro, but I know what it's like. I find this so hard to describe because I don't know what others are experiencing for a clear comparison. Smells and tastes aren't memorable, but I know what I like from experience.

I certainly get tunes stuck in my head, though. And if you play Beethoven's Fifth, I know what it is! I'm not good at recognising music, but not hopeless.

I assume there are degrees of aphantasia. I know of people who can't recognise faces at all, even of their family members. I think that extreme has a different name. I am extremely bad at remembering faces. I can spend all day with someone and then meet them the next day in a different context and not be sure who they are. I will usually recognise that they are familiar, but not always. I can't call up an image of the face of anyone I know, and that really bugs me now that I know that others can.
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Old 01-23-2019, 12:24 AM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is offline
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We've had a bunch of threads about visualisation, of which my favourite is this one, from about post 10 onwards.

I think it's helpful to split your sensory experience of memory or imagination into the five senses explicitly.

When you think about an image, do you really "see" the image?
When you think about a sound, do you really "hear" the sound?
When you think about a taste, do you really "taste" the taste?

... and so on.

My answers for the five major senses would be: No (99%): OOOHH YES!: No: No: No. But I understand that some people might score a 'yes' on all five, to some degree or another.

The thing about not recognising faces is called prosopagnosia - but it's totally different. There is (used to be) a fantastic page from a face-blind person that explains it - now available only from the wayback machine. But it's really nothing to do with being able to call up visual imagery or not - it's to do with your brain not recognising that faces specifically are a really important feature, that you have specialised software in your brain to deal with (in the way that you don't for rocks, or leaves, or even dogs
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Old 01-24-2019, 12:55 AM
K.Sharon K.Sharon is offline
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You can improve it by watching similar things again and again

Last edited by K.Sharon; 01-24-2019 at 12:57 AM. Reason: question get wrong
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Old 01-24-2019, 01:31 AM
Squink Squink is offline
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Scientific American ran a lot of stuff on phospenes in the early 70's.
People patented designs later on: Apparatus and method for generating phosphenes
No one's come up with a well controlled system yet.

Last edited by Squink; 01-24-2019 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 01-24-2019, 08:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lynne-42 View Post
I gather aphantasics are less likely to suffer traumatic stress episodes because we can't relay events vividly.
Nope. I am one and I’ve got PTSD. My symptoms are intrusive feelings rather than images, each is actually typical for PTSD from early childhood.

I get triggered by various stimulus, including visual ones, so while I may not be able to recall images at will, obviously they are there.

I have very vivid dreams, realistic enough that a couple of times that I mistook them for memories of actual events.
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Old 01-24-2019, 10:06 PM
Littleman Littleman is offline
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Hmm I've always been able to FF or rewind or otherwise manipulate dreams, only occasionally being physically limited, like unable to move a certain limb quickly.....I'm guessing bc it's physically restricted in reality , up against something.
Didn't really matter because I could manipulate any other aspect to my advantage besides usually being unmotivated to change the broad subject matter.

It is hard to imagine not having that ability.
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Old 01-25-2019, 01:12 AM
lynne-42 lynne-42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TokyoBayer View Post
Nope. I am one and Iíve got PTSD. My symptoms are intrusive feelings rather than images, each is actually typical for PTSD from early childhood.

I get triggered by various stimulus, including visual ones, so while I may not be able to recall images at will, obviously they are there.

I have very vivid dreams, realistic enough that a couple of times that I mistook them for memories of actual events.
Ok, so much for the theory that aphantasics don't get PTSD. I would love to find an advantage so I don't feel so ripped off.
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Old 01-30-2019, 08:17 PM
Littleman Littleman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeRS View Post
I'm trying to improve my visualizing skills, which are on the lowest possible level, I think it's called Aphantasia and it's hard or impossible to imagine things in meaningful detail for me.

To fix this, I found an exercise called image streaming, in which you close your eyes and record yourself on a smartphone and say whatever you see and the idea is that more that you do this, the more you will see after each time. One thing I don't totally understand is whether I am supposed to say only things that I see being made out of the phosphenes (glowy patches of light behind closed eyelids) or am I also supposed to talk about things that my mind imagines normally, like when my eyes are open?

I tried just looking at phosphenes for 10, 20 minutes several times, occasionally I get some more vivid blue colors to appear out of phosphenes and more intense lights and shapes, but it's never good enough, while sometimes I don't see absolutely anything, no matter how long I wait and look, so was I supposed to look at things my mind imagines as well or only at things that are being formed out of those phosphenes?
You could always try exercises will only partial pictures as a first step .....can you fill in the rest?
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Old 01-30-2019, 08:44 PM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is offline
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Originally Posted by lynne-42 View Post
Ok, so much for the theory that aphantasics don't get PTSD. I would love to find an advantage so I don't feel so ripped off.
I have heard a number of people say that they started to have trouble with maths problems once they got abstract enough to be unvisualisable. So I credit my ability to do complex abstract maths with the fact that I have had to use non-visual strategies right from day 1.

Of course, this only works if complex abstract maths is a thing in your life!
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:14 PM
Squink Squink is offline
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Phollowing phosphenes is a good path to going to sleep.
If you can damp down other thoughts and go with the dots and swirls your brain will stop troubling you.
Lying in bed with eyes close is also a great time to try to visualize things.
You know where you are laying, which direction you are facing how many feet off the various walls and floors are. Try to imagine exact what will appear before your eyes when you open them. Open your eyes and see how far you are off. Often it's by quite a lot, but you can get better at it, if you're in a familiar, stable environment. Listening helps too. We humans do more echo-location than we're willing to admit.
A visualization is not, and will never be a phosphene. I've tried making phosphene generators that'll put out circles and squares. Be a lot of fun if possible. Lots of people have tried; patents and such. As far as I can tell, no one has succeeded.
Dreams are definitely what you call image streaming, although there's taste and smell and touch streaming too. Phosphenes appear to be fundamentally abstract. That, or the interface is to complex for us to mess with in any meaningful way.
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