L'aphantasie est un trouble neurologique qui touche jusqu'à 5 % de la population. © Syda Productions, Adobe Stock

Aphantasia manifests itself in your pupils

Some people are unable to form mental images: this is called aphantasia. This condition, which is still unknown, affects between 2 and 5% of the population. It is impossible to detect it except through the experience of patients so today, it will in fact be visible to the eyes according to one study!

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It may relate to the impossibility of forming mental images, whether instantaneous or in memories, or even the difficulty of mentally recreating sounds. L ‘aphantasia, unknown, affects up to 5% of the population. Introduced in 2015, the term comes from the Greek word “a,” which expresses denial, and “illusion,” referring to imagination. Among the affected people, some can partially recreate the images, others imagine them in their dreams … Few studies have been carried out on this topic, especially on the disclosure of this neurosis. Currently, the diagnosis is actually based on self-diagnosis: affected people realize themselves that they are unable to give birth mental pictures.

In a study published in the journal eLifeResearchers have focused on detecting this condition through eyes. Or, more specifically, by the pupils. These, if they automatically react to differences in lightIt can expand or contract depending on the cognitive tasks performed.

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The more visualization you have, the wider your pupils will be.

For their experiment, they tested two groups of people: a control group and a group with people who reported having aphantasia. Each group first observed pictures of light and dark shapes on a gray background, and then were asked to think about them and mentally reimagine them. During the first step, a file the pupils of all participants varies in size according to brightness The pictures shown. But when the team asked people to visualize these same images, they found a real difference between the two groups: where the pupils of the dominants are always constricted and dilated, those of the aphantasic individuals did not differ. Practically nothing.

“Imaging four things at once is more difficult than imagining just one. People with aphantasia have their pupils dilated when they imagined four shapes compared to one, but did not change depending on whether the shapes were light or dark,” They said. “Our results provide new evidence that our pupils respond to the vividness and strength of the visual image being considered, and the stronger and more vivid that image is, the greater the pupil’s response to light.” Their discovery will then allow testing whether a person has aphantasia or not, and this from an early age. Because if aphantasia does not prevent them from living normally, affected individuals declare that they feel different from others.

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