This just in: Some people can’t visualise images in their mind

Imagine going through life with the inability to create visual images. Turns out that if you have aphantasia, you can’t.

It turns out that there are people in the world who don’t have a “mind’s eye”: the ability to picture things in your head.

Apparently, aphantasia affects two-to-five per cent of people and scary stories have been used as stimuli for research on the condition.


New research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that when 46 participants read written accounts of scary stories, “skin conductivity levels quickly started to grow for people who were able to visualise the stories,” Professor Joel Pearson, senior author on the paper, in a said in a statement.

“The more the stories went on, the more their skin reacted. But for people with aphantasia, the skin conductivity levels pretty much flatlined.” In other words, people with aphantasia probably had no problem reading Goosebumps as a kid before bed.

The second finding of the study, however, proved that people with this condition aren’t immune to experiencing fear from visual images, if made to watch something scary.

According to IFL Science, the same participants were then shown photos of cadavers and a snake about to strike which “successfully scared the crap out of everyone regardless of whether or not they had aphantasia.” 

The research proved that there is a strong link between mental imagery and thoughts and emotions… and that pretty much everyone is afraid of snakes.

Read the full study here.