Hyperphantasia

Just came across this recently.

Hyperphantasia : Essentially extremely vivid visualisation.

It doesn’t even have a wiki page as far as I know about it.

I found some Reddit posts on checklists for it :

Visual - Picture an apple on a plate.

  1. What color is the apple?
  2. What variety is the apple? (Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Macintosh…)
  3. Which direction is the light coming from?
  4. Is there a specular reflection - ie, a shiny spot, as if light is being accurately reflected by the skin of the apple?
  5. Are there imperfections in the surface? Roughness, subtle variations in the color of the apple?
  6. Is there reflected illumination from the plate onto the apple?
  7. Can you easily zoom in on the apple, rotate it, etc? How faithful to an actual 3-D physical object is this in your mind’s eye?

Audio - Imagine a song, one with vocals and instruments. Pick one you’re familiar with.

  1. Does it have all the instruments?
  2. Are the vocals changing pitch, tone, etc?
  3. Are the vocals actual words, or just sort of gibberish fitting the role? (Try singing along to whatever is going through your head out loud if you’re not sure)
  4. How sharp are the drums?
  5. Can you change the tempo?
  6. Can you make the singer sound like they huffed helium?
  7. Can you swap out instruments? Swap out lyrics wholesale?
  8. Can you change the key or mode of the song?

Touch/Proprioception - Imagine your hand and an object, any object, in front of you.

  1. Can you mentally reach out and touch it?
  2. Does the object feel like it should? Hard/soft, hot/cold, smooth/rough, etc…
  3. Could you feel your own imagined hand and arm? Were you aware of the physical movements in the same way that you know where your physical arm/hand/fingers are without looking?
  4. How heavy is the object you imagined? The right weight?
  5. Can you change that weight?
  6. Close your eyes (mentally or physically, whatever works) and concentrate on that imagined hand. Start with the thumb. Tap it to your palm. Do the same with your index finger, then your middle, ring, little finger. Any problems?
  7. Can you keep going ? In other words, can you continue to ‘tap fingers’ with fingers you don’t have - imagine that you had extra fingers - despite not having a real-life analogue to compare to?
  8. Can you go a step further, and imagine the feel of wholly alien things (bird wings, say) that will require entirely fictitious input?

Smell - Imagine a flower, preferably one with a strong smell

  1. Can you smell it at all?
  2. Does it smell strong enough, or just a faint whiff?
  3. Is the smell accurate - a rose smelling like a rose?
  4. Can you make it smell like something else - fresh cookies, say?
  5. Multiple smells at once? Rose, cookies, old stinky socks?

Taste - Seems to be pretty rare, but… imagine a few foods.

  1. Can you taste them?
  2. If you imagine something salty - like a pickle or potato chips - and add imaginary salt to it, does it taste saltier?
  3. Can you distinctly tell apart the taste of distinct items, like, say, two flavors of chips, or two kinds of candy bar, or two different wines?
  4. Kind of the acid test: if you imagine a few foods and what they would taste like together, can you go in your kitchen, get those foods, eat them together, and have them taste the same? That is, are your imagined tastes demonstrably the same as the real thing to a degree that it would be useful cooking?

I pretty much tick all check-boxes, but based on the recent aphantasia posts I’m kind of curious on how it is for others. I generally thought it was this way for most people.

  • What do you think about this?
  • What checklist boxes do you tick?
  • Have you applied any of this to memory techniques?

I personally find visualizing your finger as a tentacle to be extremely creepy and disturbing when the sensation is there for Touch.8

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I almost certainly don’t have this, because I have to concentrate and put a lot of work into making my loci images more vivid than they otherwise would be.

I can’t test this right now because I haven’t the time, but I’m planning to later today.

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I think this is absolutely possible.

I can ‘hear’ certain songs or noises in my mind as if there was a radio at my side playing them. Sometimes a song that I heard only one time ten years or more ago reappears and keeps playing for hours or days. This can be quite annoying.

Aside from that, I also discovered a way to temporarily increase my visual imagination. It went so far that I saw and was conscious of every single hair of the fur when I imagined an animal (which was quite exhausting mentally). Thanks God it wore off after some days.

I just skimmed them, but in my ‘normal’ state I would tick very few of them, if any at all. The pictures in my mind are usually blurry, like an overlap of many similar pictures that I have seen before. For instance think of all the apples you have seen in your live and try to ‘merge’ them.

Yeah, I actually tried to combine the temporarily enhanced visualization and memory techniques. Unfortunately it didn’t work well. You would think that it is easier to recall a locus with an object when you see them with crystal like clarity. This wasn’t true in my case, rather the opposite. When I recalled the station, I saw it very clear again, yet I often couldn’t tell to which part of it I had attached the object. There were just so many details! I found that it is more beneficial for memory sports to use the blurry stations instead and only use one or two details to connect with the object.

Aside from that, the blurry objects seem to be ‘stickier’ in general. My theory is that they activate more neurons. When imaging one apple with a distinct color, shape and so on, you just have that one apple. But when using the blurry apple, there are connections to all the situations in your life that you encountered an apple in, plus all the additional impressions you made back then. The same goes for stations. Hence more neurons are firing. This could explain why the blurry stations and objects are stickier. But as I said, this is just a theory of mine that can also be completely wrong.

That’s very interesting. Hope it is okay to aks you two questions regarding the visual part.

  • Did you see all the things beforehand, for instance the illumination from question 6? Or did it just jump into your mind the moment you read the question?

  • When you imagine the apple, does the surrounding disappear? Or do you see both the apple and the surrounding, like augmented reality?

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I definitely can relate to this, it took a lot of effort to train myself to silence these earworms a little.

This is quite interesting, I’m kind of curious on what exactly the way is, especially if you haven’t mentioned it before.

Conversely this kind of means that you can use the extra details instead of an extended journey, perhaps not ideal but maybe there is a way to abuse this, such as perhaps double reinforcing something.

Kind of like the abstract concept of something and a lot more connections to that then to the detail of little example connections.

On that note I made one of my friends do a test and they can’t visualise a red star, on the other-hand they can visualise a book and the writing inside a book, pretty much evidence that connections matter a lot. They haven’t really seen a lot of stars but are an avid reader.

I did see it but I didn’t pay attention to it until I read question 3. After Question 3 I didn’t need to have it jump into my mind the moment I read the question. I can kind of ignore aspects of my visualisation, e.g I can ignore touch when I am visualising insects otherwise I would be jerking everywhere if I wasn’t able to do something like this. It’s a bit harder to completely ignore or completely raise(the sensation) but still very much doable.

I can make either happen easily, but its very much focus again. I kind of see the apple and have the background blur on default while the plate is there, it’s not really more effort consuming to keep the background there too but it gives a kind of augmented effect.E.g when I stare at a page of a book, I can recall that page of the book but I won’t be able to really read it, I have to more or less scroll my eyes from left to right in my head still rather than comprehending all the details of the structure. So if I do that its like me looking at the ‘not only’ the apple, unless I play odd tricks on the vision with some imaginary third eye split or something. More or less the visualisation works as it would if I were using the common 5 senses.I can do some odd quirks like generate a wall of gold stars onto my wallpaper instantly or a bunch of random text, but I wouldn’t know the content or count of this without actually counting/inspecting. This means for example I can visualise someone talking to me and I wouldn’t know what they were saying beforehand but it would sound like something they would say. Sometimes ironically this means whoever I am visualising may know things I don’t know at least consciously…

This said, some sensations are ironically stronger then when I physically experience them if they are visualised. Occasionally, I can also find myself day dreaming in an almost lucid dream state which has its downsides and plus sides. I think this is just flow+visualisation however. .

I also generally like questions so feel free to ask if you have any more…

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It’s a strongly modified version of an exercise called Image Streaming. Sorry, but I don’t want to go in further because I think it could be dangerous for the user. It was always accompanied by a strong headache. I know this sucks, but I don’t want anyone to die from epilepsia or something.

That’s a good point. I’ve actually tried to make several connections for every image, and it indeed worked better. But it also slowed me down, which isn’t so good for memory sports.

Yes, that’s a good way to summarize it.

How about you? Do you also do memory sports, and if so, how does hyperphantasia effect your strategies? I’m curious :slight_smile:

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Hello Nagime,

I recently came across your post and I find the information it contains interesting.

Also, I have done the tests and they were effortless, because visualization is easy for me.

I ticked all checkboxes and I thought this was quite normal, but after reading the comments here I cannot understand how someone could not do this.

As a child, I couldn’t resist visualizing things. They just came to me. How do people without this learn?

I cannot imagine how to ‘not imagine’ something. This is absurd!

Yours Sincerely

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Lots of hints to deduce things from, but now I really want to try it. If however it is a form of image streaming, I can more or less probably reach it experimentally unless the twist is really unusual.

Feel free to message me the method in a private chat if you want, I won’t pass it on.

This is indeed problematic, but maybe the effect will be different when you get used to it and speed up more?

I don’t currently participate in memory sports but I’m avidly interested and experimenting around with memory as it can help me make things even better on the academic side of things and personally.

My view on memory is a bit similar to yours:

While there are some differences it makes the last question ‘what activates more neurons overall’ kind of in the same significance. I have found mainly that different regions, e.g verbal encoding, do not have the same extent of an impact on visual encoding particularly if not abstract, or rather it largely depends on the association cortex rather than just isolated neurons being active. Maximising the response would be much easier if I got access to such data or otherwise could monitor my own more directly than trial and error but I suppose there is little choice.

Hyperphantasia feels a little natural to me so I would be able to encode things with smell and taste for example or touch but I usually restrain on it. It would be feasible to do the ironic thing of smelling calculations with careful training but it’s a bit questionable, I doubt it would be faster than visual visualisation. I have had experiments where I have used multiple senses to encode things and they have gone well but they haven’t exactly caused a dramatic shift. Kind of like when you are using a more complicated system that works but you can get quicker at it with training, for now it’s not very impressive.

I find that while I can make quick synesthesia alike associations, usually the greatest ‘benefits’ are when these are of the same kind of sense. E.g verbal encoding doesn’t often help visuals as much as it helps verbal data itself and similarly so with visual encoding.

I can put myself into an extremely detailed world and this kind of thing is extremely fun but its hard to remember that you are making memories when you do this the more detailed it is.

The main difference with my strategies is that I can do a lot of things so I haven’t really been able to test everything. There are pretty much many variations to consider. I have gone back and forth on overall considerations at least 300 times in the last 6 months.

At times it can be distracting : ‘having some character you know well traverse your palace in a certain way rather than how you usually do so in first person, and having difficulty ignoring them or removing them because they are very vivid’ ,‘visualising too detailed things too quickly and jerking around because of this or having your heart rate go up’, ‘day dreaming and getting caught up in it to the point that you are forgetting that you are supposed to be working’.

Speed wise, I suppose because I am consciously changing my level of attention for my visualisation, I find it easier to visualise some things quickly if I try to do so. I can also reduce the detail which I am still debating on whether it truly allows me to remember/think more or faster. Ironically I haven’t yet tried an overly detailed journey for memory, I may try this later on, but I usually always forget that I am memorising something once I do this kind of thing.

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I thought this originally but it seems it is what it is.

I have much nostalgia visualising as a child. Pretty much everyone who ticks the checkboxes so far that I have found on the web says they have spent a lot of time visualising as a child. I used to spend over 10 hours just playing with my visualisation everyday.

I have once tried hard to not imagine anything while learning, it was very much like being a robot with verbal play.

It just really feels so natural just to visualise things.

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I also seem to tick all the boxes but from my perspective a question emerges.

When I do a large calculation, I visualize the numbers in my head. I can see them clearly and manipulate them. My question is, shouldn’t someone with true hyperphantasia be capable of doing the same?

If you give a regular person a pencil and a sheet of paper and tell them to calculate 4385×7826, they will workout the problem on the sheet of paper and get the answer of 34,317,010. Now we get to hyperphantasia. If hyperphantasia is as vivid as it claims to be, shouldn’t we expect someone with hyperphantasia to be capable of doing the same calculation like the regular person but with an imagined piece of paper? In theory they should be capable of visualizing the whole calculation in their head. But here is the kicker, if they can’t visualize some numbers in their head in order to solve a calculation like this, how can they visualize anything else in full detail? Isn’t there some contradiction there? If hyperphantasia means to be capable of visualizing anything in almost full detail, how could they struggle with simple numbers? I face the same problem when it comes to eidetic memory. From my perspective, someone with eidetic memory should also be a natural human calculator but this is not the case.

Perhaps you guys know an explanation, I look forward to your thoughts. :slight_smile:

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You are so right. Even now, as a man, I am playing with my imagination, yet. I mean I am just sitting in my free time and visualize something. I only think in images.

It feels like an intuitive process, isn’t it?

Like a CD-Player repeating mere words.

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Thank u for posting the questionnaire @Nagime ; Really helpful

Around a year back, i realised that i wasn’t great with visualization,esp. with
image rotation.But then, with little bit of practice & taking some cues from Marvel movies, now i can do it with ease.

I m interested in GMS techniques, which is of the belief that for better memorization, images need to be large,vivid ,3D + able to zoom & rotate and. It doesnt pay much emphasis on actions which may slow down the speed of memorization.
The first seven questions on visual imagery can also be a part of regular practice to further enhance one’s visualization skills.

Finally, I feel for better visualization, it is also important to observe things more closely and make it a habit.Once i started to observe the objects around me with greater emphasis on shape,size & color; my visualization process also started to improve.

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I think there are several reasons this could vary but from my perspective as someone who also ticks all the boxes.

Can I visualize the numbers in my head? Yes
Can I see them clearly and manipulate them? Yes

I think I can even manipulate them better in 3d, but where the issue with this comes in is when I visualize around a 60 digit number (for example). I can still see this self generated number in my head but I can’t calculate with the entire sum seemingly. I would have to go to the very right or left and then deal with chunks of digits at a time, then believe that while I focus on this the other numbers won’t change. The numbers themselves at large chunks just seem like peripheral vision numbers, I know they are clear numbers but without putting my attention to them It’s like looking left and reading from the right corner of my eye.

After some experimenting I realized that when I ‘draw’ (in my mind) the numbers, this is not quite the case. When I draw them in my mind then my span is seemingly able to keep more attention to the detail than it would normally do. So I would deduce, while this is a factor of working memory too, essentially very similar drawings interfere and make it difficult for you to distinguish between them causing this offset. So when you manually feed in ‘difference’ detail you maintain some of this detail as you process the larger image. Doing this on default (as part of unconscious perception) may be where the difference is in that regard. This however is merely a theory. It’s slightly further supported by the fact that for kanji characters for example, if I don’t know the radicals or characters at all I can memorize them by seeing them in my mind but something clearly feels off even when I can perfectly recall them in my mind. This sensation also vanishes if I mentally trace over the characters.

The best way to give an analogy would be that If I don’t mentally trace them at all then it is as though I am manipulating a drawing, whereas if I do mentally draw them in my head then its kind of like I am actually manipulating a character or ‘structure’. When I do pay attention to detail I often have a structural drawing or rather awareness which is much faster then tracing over but also not quite as effective.

The tracing and structural awareness in each case is memory dependent, if I draw multiple characters at a time it is much more effective for me to keep them all in my head and manipulate them to the highest effectiveness. Whereas if I do this one after the other it can sometimes cause a loss at some point during the manipulation, (or drawing if the character count is very large).

Despite this factor being the case it’s not as though I don’t see the detail in the structure without processing it, it just feels as though I can see it but I am not processing it properly (optical illusion situation). For example if I visualize a very complicated set of overly detailed raindrops, this does feel more difficult and more detailed then the numbers but easily done, these raindrops have so much detail they seem different to each other, if I instead switch this to paying attention to the shapes of the raindrops particularly I find that they are very similar, I am rather getting confused then finding it difficult or otherwise.

Conversely this means that if I memorize how to draw certain characters/numbers this automatically happens in the future, but it is also position dependent. Having to draw numbers 12314241 before 7 on the left or so doesn’t completely negate it but increases the difficulty of the manipulation. At least that is how I see it somewhat.
I get quite a boost in this regard if I visualize them in my head as drawings,


As for the second point, one of my friends can’t visualize a red star but they can visualize more complicated things vividly. Their memory is pretty bad so I am certain that they don’t remember many stars just as they have said. Which makes me slightly believe that having a lot of memorized examples seems to make a difference in your ability to reconstruct them.

In this case there are several possibilities separate from the above.

  1. They don’t know the actual common results. e.g they may have to do8+8+8+8… rather than 8*8=64. This point is also the same for knowing those results well, because they may for example take 3 seconds to generate this result in their head,possibly not this much of an actual issue but very much a possibility simply because of how they memorized it.
  2. They may struggle ‘modifying’ their image in their mind. Perhaps they are manipulating numbers but still seeing the original image and this is getting them stuck, or they just are bad at manipulating/updating what they see. This may also be speed relevant, for example saying visualize the fastest line drawn from an A4 sheets top right corner to the bottom left. Even though this is easy to see you will get different speeds for different people.

Conveyed my thoughts, what do you think?

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It’s very much joyous to think only in images, from time to time my visualization still gets the better of me and lets me play around or my imagination comes to the surface, its quite enjoyable.

Yes, it’s about as intuitive to me as saying you are breathing if It were an honest comparison.

I have tried it and actually done it successfully but… It’s kind of an ironic thing:

'Hard to understand triggers what is hard to understand triggers how to not visualize triggers why is it hard to understand how not to visualize triggers

You have this long chain of sound calling other sound so that a question asks you : explain ‘what is hard to understand about how to not visualize’ and so the sound calls the other sound. Kind of horror learning but its doable.

Thank you!
I will remove this.

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But shouldn’t they be capable of doing these easily after they learn and practice this at school? I remember that as soon as I learned the tables of 1 to 10, I didn’t need to learn or memorize the tables of 11 to 20 because the inbetween results can be easily calculated using the table of 1 to 10. So, essentially I knew the tables of any 2 digit or 3 digit number as a kid just because I knew the tables of 1 to 10. Someone with eidetic memory should experience the same if their memory is that good. 64 should pop up immediately after they see 8x8.

There might be something there. I’ve been thinking about these problems for a while now and it seems that when it comes to imagining something it has 2 distinct ways; imagining from memory and imagining at the spot. Perhaps the “circuits” of these two distinct ways allows for more or for less ability to manipulate a visualized image. The ability to manipulate seems to work better on the spot, “creative imagining” than fully imagining something from memory. I guess in order to be a natural human calculator you need somewhat of all 3; decent memory, decent visualisation and decent manipulation. Missing 1 of the 3 could make the difference between being a natural human calculator or not. This would explain both the eidetic memory problem and hyperphantasia problem.

It was good, haha :slight_smile:

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I remember in my primary school they had those times-table quizzes and I would always score highest on them. I am pretty sure I was one of the only people who knew them. Part of this is probably due to the fact that what you get to learn arithmetic at that age is essentially just a bunch of questions like 1x8 ,8x9… The other part of the issue here is that, pretty much the teachers teach you to do it by sound not visual manipulation. When you over rely on sound you will pretty much almost never use your visual system even if you could. Kind of like how we can picture the alphabet and if you learned it through a song you will likely instead say in your head abcdef…z. So someone would have to relearn it even if they learned it in school which they may not ‘know’, so instead of seeing 8x8 and popping 64, their sound system chips in causing a delay or they actually quickly visually manipulate it causing a slight delay.

This also reminds me of another story at college/high-school, the teacher was teaching everyone how to learn some basic cos/sin/tan values. The teacher proposed drawing a triangle and self discovering the exact values. The teacher then said ’ I have been doing this for 30 years’. Now, I have seen this teacher for 2 years and every single time a question involves such a value they draw this triangle even if this is a common value. Despite doing it for 30 years their over reliance on this triangle has prevented them from paying attention to and memorizing the values. It would be easy enough for them to do, but when you think about the overexposure of this it’s quite something.

Yeah, I also think so in the general sense. I have found that when I am updating something, using ‘movements’ seems to work much more effectively then just seeing the values and then pasting an image of the results. However, even I would go back to some elementary arithmetic and relearn values in whatever way I feel is most efficient for calculating, if I were to ramp up my ability to calculate with numbers that is.

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Could this in someway be related to verbal thinking? Because I never learned arithmetic by sound, I automatically could visualize the numbers.

Also, there is a delay when it comes to visualizing the numbers. If you caught me off guard with a random calculation, it would take like a second or so before I see the numbers. As soon as I realize the calculation, the numbers show up but I have a short moment of delay before I realize the calculation. If you were to ask me another calculation right after then there would be no delay since I am in still in “calculation mode”, for a lack of better words.

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I definitely had to learn arithmetic by sound even though I could visualise it.
I was very much confused as to why it wasn’t taught visually. So occasionally on my homework sheets I just did it visually. In any school setting there were questions thrown around, songs sung e.g 1*1 = 1 2x2 =4 3x3 = 9… You quickly didn’t fit in if you didn’t say out the steps. I was actually put into a similar detention situation (once only) because my mathematics teacher said I didn’t explain my steps but just did it in my head and that this was bad, I was very confused on the ‘explain your steps’ part at that age. ‘What was not explained about listing the arithmetic statements’, ‘why did I even have to do this’, things like this. I quickly had to come to terms with saying things like ‘-b plus minus the square root of b squared minus 4 a c all over 2a’. Ironically even on the high-school prep for universities, they used to tell us for interviews that we have to speak out our thoughts instead of keeping them in our head otherwise they won’t think we are very intelligent and have just memorised the answers beforehand. I always wondered what this implied for someone who exclusively thinks visually, since this feat is much more odd. So I think its largely to do with the education system.

Also well, people in school to my experience do not really have a much developed ability to think verbally. There is a common attempt to bring in ‘critical thinking’, that usually falls deaf. Even so verbal thinking, pretty dominant as a form of manipulation/execution/learning in schools, since you are able to share information in the same output. There is also that mix of the myth: ‘left brain’ Logic, math… , ‘right brain’ creativity, art… even when it is no longer believed no one seems to dissociate verbal thought and logic as the only application of logic outside of symbolic manipulation.

Yes, this to my experience can be reduced drastically just by doing the ‘switching’ frequently, its also surprisingly tiring to keep switching quickly.

I have however noticed some things like if I visualise a picture of a flower, there is no time limit for how long I visualise this picture. So I would generally visualise it, if you then say visualise a car and I am supposed to not visualise the flower then I would visualise a car. It’s clear to me that the delay there is from the fact that I am getting rid of the image of a flower first. On default I kind of just do it and the delay isn’t long enough to notice without a stopwatch, but if I have the awareness that I am supposed to get rid of the picture of a flower quickly I can just visualise the flower for a brief few milliseconds so I am ready for the next image. If however these objects are on the same location of sorts I can just get rid of one while placing the other without much of a time lag. I assume it might be a bit similar to this, ‘being ready’ of sorts.

Thinking in terms of neuroscience however, it seems to be a very logical thing. When you expect to do something such as thinking ‘I am going to do the next calculation that shows up’. You likely won’t have a delay, the start signal is amplified by this expecting. When you don’t expect it then its slightly reduced in amplitude because you are focusing on other things, so when you then try to do it you push a few more pulses and you get it going all the same. You kind of have to hit a minimum before it actually gets going.

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Overall because of hyperphantasia I’m kind of curious does anyone also experience self induced frisson without requiring a visual/verbal cue?

After thinking about it, given the ability to visualise touch sensations I realised that this may be pretty related.

I can self activate allergy to dusts. In Australia, there is still a lot of asbestos fencing, which gives you cancer with the tiniest breath of the particle. Growing up in a suburb filled with asbestos fence and finding that fact out has made me “highly allergic” to dusts (my guess) as the doctor says after a blood test. My throat would become filled with sticky saliva whenever exposed to certain amount of dusts.

However, I have learnt that it only comes whenever I see the god damn asbestos fence. Since then I have learnt how to turn it on or off, even if I still see a asbestos fence (at first I explain how little chance I would breath in that particle and that all you are doing is wasting energy, then slowly as the number of times I have to repeat myself increased, it became a feeling-a switch to turn the allergy off).

To turn it on, I just simply imagine the bloody green asbestos fence without using the off switch feeling.

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