I think I have aphantasia problem or short term memory problem

I’m taking some online studies in social studies and drawings and I think I have aphantasia problem

I was talking to a friend and he said he is shocked that when I do math in my head, spell my name, spell my street address so on I see nothing. But I spell by sound than seeing how the letters are spelled in my head.

When it comes to math, english and drawing I see nothing when I close my eyes.

When I go to the store people are shocked I have to go to same store 10 to 15 times for me to remember what I looked at. If there is many things in that one store I will only remember about 5 things.

I think I may have aphantasia.

I prefer “non-visualiser” myself. ‘Aphantasia’ sounds like … well, a terrible problem or debilitating condition or something rather than just your brain using different methods than some other people’s brains to process information.

The thing about not remembering what you saw at the shops sounds annoying though. I haven’t experienced that myself, though I never visualise anything unless I’m 90% of the way to asleep. So I suspect that may be something else going on. Has it always been like that for you, or is this a new problem?

I always had this problem. More than 4 or 5 things is too much for my brain to remember.

So If I was buying new TV or computer more than 4 or 5 things and I forget what I was looking at.

I’m not in any way an expert, but that sounds like it might possibly be an executive function issue. How’s your memory on purely verbal stuff? Random gossip? Song lyrics? Poetry?

If I read simple words used in first grade in school like say cat, bat, hot, sun so on and I close my eyes I see nothing.

So with spelling I go by the sounds than seeing in my mind how it is spelled. Yes very simple first grade words like cat, bat or sun.

If there is a specific person in my dream, I just know its them, I don’t see or recognise them. And 90% of the time I never see person face in dream.

This is having big impact on my studies as I need lot more time studying.

Does this sound like aphantasia? My short term memory seem to be only 5 things.

I have “aphantasia”. I think entirely in words and concepts and thinking about images or visuals is … abstract. I have no memory problems though, other than a tendency to distract myself. It’s possible aphantasia is a symptom of whatever you may or may not have, but it is also a very common … brain modality and could be entirely unrelated.

This is me. When I realized that asking someone to picture something in their head wasn’t metaphorical, I was shocked. I was also 51 years old.

My long term memory isn’t great for personal events, especially those that are emotionally charged, but for factual or technical information, it’s very strong.

I have the opposite problem… my brain is constantly making mental images, and apparently prefers them to what’s going on in the real world.

What I’ve learned from my brain’s (many) oddities, everyone’s imagination is different. Everyone has a different way of interacting with the world.

So there’s no “right” way. BUT those of us who are more different than others need to compensate for our way of doing things. Like your “more time studying”… yeah, sucks, but you have to plan that in.

Now, me, I’d have to plan extra time because at some point I’d be distracted by the vision of a very intricately-detailed pirate ship up in our tall fir trees, and then I’d have to figure out how i could make that a reality, whether I’d build it in situ or on the ground and winch it up (to be the coolest treehouse ever), and who’d want to help me; would I hire my contractor friend, or have an Amish Boat-Raising and have a huge cookout with a keg and power tools and I wonder if there are plans for a ten-foot pirate ship around, or if I’d have to design the whole thing myself and I can’t do sails but should I have masts… damn, this thing’ll end up weighing a ton… see what i mean?

If you have a more auditory orientation, what happens if you say aloud six or seven words? Can you remember them by sound?

There are other techniques for remembering than just visualizing. Movement can be important, and you can link memory to specific movements, feelings, or actions. For example, if I need to remember to take something inside that’s in the trunk of my car, I might hold my keys in my hand and tell myself (aloud or just thinking it) trunk, trunk, trunk. Then when I get home and have the keys in my hand, I remember “trunk.” Or the old ticking off items of a list on your fingers. If you take time to associate the items to the fingers, it can help you remember.

If nothing helps, maybe it’s a memory problem. But if you spell (accurately) by sound, I’d guess a different technique will help.

If I go to the store and there is only 4 or 5 things I look at than I will remember it no problem. But more than 4 or 5 things I have to go many times.

Well reading up on aphantasia today on people who have problems with visualize things. Some people that have aphantasia when they are looking at some thing and closing one eye and visualize it is all fuzzy and some it is all blurry. Worse some they see all black.

It sounds like aphantasia and some short term memory recall problem I may have.

It is having a big impact on my studies. And I need way more time studying than other people.

It’s normal for short term memory to hold only a few pieces of information (the famous paper The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two suggests between 5 and 9). But true short term memory lasts less than a minute, so when you talk about remembering things to buy at the store, you may be referring to something other than what scientists call “short term memory”.

OP, it sounds to me like you’d be helped tremendously by testing for learning disabilities. Once you have a diagnosis, you can learn effective compensation tactics and may also qualify for accommodations that will give you a good shot at success. Your campus should have a disabilities coordinator who can guide you.

I’m sorry you weren’t tested and helped during your K-12 years. I imagine it would have changed your entire school experience, as the experiences you describe sound like they would have made learning much harder than it had to be. But it’s not too late. There’s help available.

Let us know what you find out.

My experience back in the 60s was that no one knew how to deal with any “non-standard” student. I got labeled “lazy”.

Sadly, that was almost always the case. The field of learning disabilities was just emerging, and people didn’t know better. In the early 1970s mother pioneered the learning disabilities program at the elementary school where she taught. The first year, she had to educate parents, who were often reluctant due to their own limited information and experience. (By the next year, parents were clamoring to get their kids in.)

We do know better now, but for various reasons, some kids still fall through the cracks. It was enormously frustrating to me to have to refer 11th graders for testing. I’m no more perceptive or expert than the good elementary and middle school teachers who had students before I did: why hadn’t anybody determined in the past 11 years that this kid had a visual processing disorder? Sometimes the answer was that the kid had moved around a lot. Sometimes it was that there were other disorders, such as ADHD, that were recognized and assumed to be the cause of the issues. Sometimes the reasons were murkier, but It was seldom due to negligence or inattention.

Again. Focusing on aphantasia for this is not what you should do. I can’t picture things in my mind either and I almost never studied for anything and got good grades well into college, where I also got good grades, but it took a while to get into the habit of actually studying.

CBC has a weekly science show, “Quirks and Quarks”, which had a good section about aphantasia that you might find worthwhile and interesting:

Not sure if this is a aphantasia problem or a short term memory problem.

I find it takes me along time to remember facts and even threads and post I have read over and over.

I will forget where I left of or the replies to the thread. My weak english may also make it worse. And weak reading comprehension and communicating well coherent thoughts.

I did read that some people with aphantasia can describe some thing like what a house, dog, cat, fox or apple so on looks like but they cannot see it.

And some people it just appears fuzzy and some other people it appears blurry.

What is strange is 90% of my dreams I do not see a person face even family and friends . I find this is really strange. I will just see their chest or back than their face.

Is that because English is not your first language or because of some issue with language learning as well? My point is not to be nosy, but to second @nelliebly’s sound suggestion to connect with your local educators about testing for learning-related disabilities. Trouble with language acquisition, like trouble with vision or hearing, is one of those foundational problems that makes everything else all the harder.

You may well have missed the optimal age for interventions, but you certainly haven’t missed the last possible age for interventions. Nothing is lost by asking.

You’re just experiencing what some of us more um, mature Dopers do every day.

I’m a bit confused. Are people saying that most people can close their eyes and actually see an image of what they’re thinking about as if they were actually looking at it?

If that’s what’s normal, then I’ve got aphantasia. (And have been going for 69 years now thinking that it’s normal.)

But if you just mean being able to imagine what something looks like without actually being able to see it, then I don’t. I mean, I just heard a train in the distance; and I know what a train looks like. But I’m not seeing the train, I just know what it looks like.