Hyperphantasia and aphantasia where do engineers stand in this regard.

Thread Starter

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
720
The following two articles for Wikipedia explain these terms:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperphantasia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphantasia

Both deal with the ability to visualize (problems, events, objects, etc. in your head). I don't consider this to be a gift I have much of and yet I seem to do just fine in mathematics and engineering without it. Just wondering what others on the forum think about this and how good (or not good in my case) do you feel you are at this?
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
10,406
IMO a engineering, building 'minds eye' (seeing the intersections of moving parts, forces, parameters, etc...) is different from vivid mental imagery. You gain this by learning *how* to design instead of just calculating and doing a procedure to make X work.
 
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crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
30,766
I am not particularly good at visualizing objects in my head (which is one reason I didn't go into mechanical engineering) but I seem to do fairly well at visualizing circuits (part intuition perhaps) to perform a specific function.

I was also not particularly good in math visualizing (e.g. looking at an equation and understanding what it means, such as the pole-zeros in a transfer function), although I was able to get through the math courses with a lot of concentrated work.
Thus, I avoid using any complicated math (beyond simple Algebra) as much as possible.
I hate solving simultaneous equations, for example.
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
2,501
This ability is strongly linked to Vitamins/Nutrition,
and the degree, or lack of, Accumulated-Heavy-Metals-Poisoning.
A very high I.Q. can sometimes provide the ability to push though the Brain-Fog.
.
.
.
 

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
6,112
The following two articles for Wikipedia explain these terms:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperphantasia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphantasia

Both deal with the ability to visualize (problems, events, objects, etc. in your head). I don't consider this to be a gift I have much of and yet I seem to do just fine in mathematics and engineering without it. Just wondering what others on the forum think about this and how good (or not good in my case) do you feel you are at this?
I think I have a great ability to visualize things in my head but I don't think my ability is above average. I think of all the people on earth I am the least qualified person to estimate whether my ability is above average. Rather I think I am the one person most likely to have an inaccurate opinion about my own ability.
 

Thread Starter

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
720
I think I have a great ability to visualize things in my head but I don't think my ability is above average. I think of all the people on earth I am the least qualified person to estimate whether my ability is above average. Rather I think I am the one person most likely to have an inaccurate opinion about my own ability.
I know what you mean. I feel the same way. Of all the people to analyze my abilities in such things I am certain I am also the least qualified. It is hard for us to be objective about ourselves. It is interesting though to see how people feel about these things.

There was a study once where people where asked if they felt they where above average in IQ. 80% (or some number like that) thought they where. That is an interesting situation because if the sample size is large enough it should represent most people and obviously the number should be closer to 50%.

Your ability to visualize things in your head may very well be above average. I think it depends how hard we make the test. Example: Visualize in your head a cube that has red on one face, green on another, blue on another, yellow on another, purple on another and white on another. Can you visualize holding the cube in your hand and turning it over and over and observing all the colors on the cube consistent with reality? That is one thing I have tried to do and can confess in no uncertain terms I cannot even get close to doing that. But if you ask me to visualize walking on the beach with the sun beaming on my body on a hot summer day with the waves splashing over my feet as my toes sink into the sand. It seems that is easier to visualize but honestly I can't really say how well I do that either. I think that is probably easier because you can remember how you felt, what you saw, what you heard. I think if it has a lot of emotion attached to it, it is easier but if it is purely intellectual like the cube with colors it is harder.


Thanks for sharing.
 
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Thread Starter

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
720
This ability is strongly linked to Vitamins/Nutrition,
and the degree, or lack of, Accumulated-Heavy-Metals-Poisoning.
A very high I.Q. can sometimes provide the ability to push though the Brain-Fog.
.
.
.
I agree with that. I have also found physical exercise seems to play a big role. If I am trying to solve a difficult problem, I find it helps to get out and take a brisk walk and get the blood moving. It is interesting that the brain is less than 2% of the body mass and yet requires 20% of the blood. The brain also requires pretty much all of the vitamins, all of the minerals, trace minerals, carbohydrates etc. and is the most metabolically active organ in the body, so it does not surprise me that Vitamins and nutrition also play a major role.
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
2,501
"" There was a study once where people where asked if they felt they where above average in IQ.
80% (or some number like that) thought they where.
That is an interesting situation because if the sample size is large enough it should represent

most people and obviously the number should be closer to 50% ""

This is due to the "Dunning-Kruger-Effect" ...........
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

"" The brain also requires pretty much all of the vitamins, all of the minerals,
trace minerals, carbohydrates etc. ""


Accurate with the exception that Carbohydrates are completely unnecessary.

Your Body can create any required Glucose, (Sugar), from Proteins with little effort,
( Sugars, contrary to popular belief, are not important to good health.
Regular ingestion of Sugars is actually detrimental to your Health,
and is the direct, and only, cause of Diabetes ).

Highly refined Carbohydrates turn into damaging Sugars within minutes of ingesting them.
Alcohol is one of the worst offenders, it turns into Sugar within seconds.
Fruit-Juices are equally bad, ( Fructose is the most damaging form of Sugar ).
.
.
.
 

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
6,112
I know what you mean. I feel the same way. Of all the people to analyze my abilities in such things I am certain I am also the least qualified. It is hard for us to be objective about ourselves. It is interesting though to see how people feel about these things.

There was a study once where people where asked if they felt they where above average in IQ. 80% (or some number like that) thought they where. That is an interesting situation because if the sample size is large enough it should represent most people and obviously the number should be closer to 50%.

Your ability to visualize things in your head may very well be above average. I think it depends how hard we make the test. Example: Visualize in your head a cube that has red on one face, green on another, blue on another, yellow on another, purple on another and white on another. Can you visualize holding the cube in your hand and turning it over and over and observing all the colors on the cube consistent with reality? That is one thing I have tried to do and can confess in no uncertain terms I cannot even get close to doing that. But if you ask me to visualize walking on the beach with the sun beaming on my body on a hot summer day with the waves splashing over my feet as my toes sink into the sand. It seems that is easier to visualize but honestly I can't really say how well I do that either. I think that is probably easier because you can remember how you felt, what you saw, what you heard. I think if it has a lot of emotion attached to it, it is easier but if it is purely intellectual like the cube with colors it is harder.


Thanks for sharing.
I think you worded that very well. I have the same thoughts regarding "a walk on the beach" vs. "a painted cube" but hadn't mentally explored the idea far enough to put it in words like you did. When I read the OP my mind went instantly to things like examining a complex geartrain and having an intuitive understanding of the direction and speed relationship of input and output based on a quick mental simulation. I didn't consider things like a walk on the beach because to me, that is a different kind of thing. Can't everyone (who's ever been go a beach (and who doesn't have aphantasia)) picture that mentally?

You have piqued my interest. I don't have a painted cube but I have 6-sided dice. I think I will try a little experiment: study a die for a few seconds, then pick a side, close my eyes, turn the die over a few times in my hand keeping a running mental simulation of what side I should be seeing if my eyes were open, and then open them and see if I'm correct.

I wonder if the die would be easier or harder to simulate than a painted cube. The numbers will make patterns that might be easier to keep track of, whereas the painted cube is "color coded" which is an intuitive thing for us humans, hence why we "color code" things to improve efficiency.
 

Thread Starter

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
720
I think you worded that very well. I have the same thoughts regarding "a walk on the beach" vs. "a painted cube" but hadn't mentally explored the idea far enough to put it in words like you did. When I read the OP my mind went instantly to things like examining a complex geartrain and having an intuitive understanding of the direction and speed relationship of input and output based on a quick mental simulation. I didn't consider things like a walk on the beach because to me, that is a different kind of thing. Can't everyone (who's ever been go a beach (and who doesn't have aphantasia)) picture that mentally?

You have piqued my interest. I don't have a painted cube but I have 6-sided dice. I think I will try a little experiment: study a die for a few seconds, then pick a side, close my eyes, turn the die over a few times in my hand keeping a running mental simulation of what side I should be seeing if my eyes were open, and then open them and see if I'm correct.

I wonder if the die would be easier or harder to simulate than a painted cube. The numbers will make patterns that might be easier to keep track of, whereas the painted cube is "color coded" which is an intuitive thing for us humans, hence why we "color code" things to improve efficiency.
Nice idea, being everyone generally has access to dice. I might try that as well. Another thing we could do with the dice, because it provides objective instant feedback on how well we are doing it would allow us to 'practice' this skill and see if we can improve it with practice. It might be an effective way for anyone to improve that skill.
I have a feeling the colored cube may be harder for some and easier for others being that color creation in the mind would take on a different visualization method than the dice which is a little more 'numerical'.
 

Halfpint786

Joined Feb 19, 2018
50
I have aphantasia. It is a real problem in my life. Until recently, I was operating a lawn care business. If I were to walk into a gas station and some random person said hi, I would have no clue they were a lawn client. I've had to explain my problem to people before. I come close to having full blown prosopagnosia, but if I see someone often enough (like immediate family that I see every day), I can identify them, but it is difficult. I took a class on Solidworks one time, and did very well with it, but if I try to visualize a 12 piece wire frame box, I get about 4 wires into the visualization before the "image" goes POOF!. Just like that, it's gone. But I know where the individual pieces/wires should go regardless of where I start drawing them on paper, which is easy. The memories are more like bits and pieces of descriptions having geometric relations than clear 3D imagery... It's hard to explain. If you asked me to picture an apple or a car and then asked me what color it was, I'd just smile and make something up.
 
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Halfpint786

Joined Feb 19, 2018
50
For those interested in trying the dice or cube idea, I recommend drawing random shapes on the sides. Things you are familiar with like "one, two, three... or red, blue, green..." are easily remembered in parts of the brain not associated with imagery recollection and does not do the test justice.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
27,389
I have aphantasia. It is a real problem in my life. Until recently, I was operating a lawn care business. If I were to walk into a gas station and some random person said hi, I would have no clue they were a lawn client. I've had to explain my problem to people before. I come close to having full blown prosopagnosia, but if I see someone often enough (like immediate family that I see every day), I can identify them, but it is difficult. I took a class on Solidworks one time, and did very well with it, but if I try to visualize a 12 piece wire frame box, I get about 4 wires into the visualization before the "image" goes POOF!. Just like that, it's gone. But I know where the individual pieces/wires should go regardless of where I start drawing them on paper, which is easy. The memories are more like bits and pieces of descriptions having geometric relations than clear 3D imagery... It's hard to explain. If you asked me to picture an apple or a car and then asked me what color it was, I'd just smile and make something up.
It's my understanding that aphantasia and prosopagnosia are very different conditions that might have a week correlation. Most people that have one do not have the to other while some people have both. Sounds like you might have both.

I have moderate prospagnosia. I still get anxious every time I know I will need to find my wife or daughter in a crowd, though I'm usually able to without too much difficulty, and I don't think there's anyone, no matter how distinctive their features or how long I have known them, that I could describe to even a well-trained sketch artist and come up with something reasonably close. My daughter has a good friend whom I would frequently confuse with her until she got within about ten feet, despite the fact that when standing together they look nothing alike beyond a generic "asian" starting point. I frequently run into people that I know pretty well in unfamiliar settings (like the grocery store) and, at best, have an, "it seems like I should know that person," feeling. When I try to visualize faces of someone I know, it's like I seem to (as in it is the impression I have in my mind) get an initial image that is close, but then within a second or two it starts morphing into all kinds of twisted, unrecognizable patterns.

But when I try to visualize almost anything other than faces, I have very little difficult maintaining a pretty detailed and consistent image in my mind for an extended period of time. That ability, however, did take a hit after I had a mild stroke in 2008 and, while it improved, it has never returned to it's pre-stroke level. The same is true for my ability to keep different parts of a mathematical problem in my mind at the same time. I need to resort to sketching out equations and relationships on paper much sooner and in more detail than I used to. My degree of prospagnosia, on the other hand, didn't seem to be affected by the stroke at all, even temporarily -- at least not that I noticed.
 

Thread Starter

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
720
I have aphantasia. It is a real problem in my life. Until recently, I was operating a lawn care business. If I were to walk into a gas station and some random person said hi, I would have no clue they were a lawn client. I've had to explain my problem to people before. I come close to having full blown prosopagnosia, but if I see someone often enough (like immediate family that I see every day), I can identify them, but it is difficult. I took a class on Solidworks one time, and did very well with it, but if I try to visualize a 12 piece wire frame box, I get about 4 wires into the visualization before the "image" goes POOF!. Just like that, it's gone. But I know where the individual pieces/wires should go regardless of where I start drawing them on paper, which is easy. The memories are more like bits and pieces of descriptions having geometric relations than clear 3D imagery... It's hard to explain. If you asked me to picture an apple or a car and then asked me what color it was, I'd just smile and make something up.
Thanks for sharing your story. I would have thought that aphantasia would not be the same as 'pattern recognition'. I never thought about it being related to facial recognition which I tend to think of as pattern recognition. Example: I cannot honestly picture someone in my head well (that is visualize their face). But I seem to have no issues when I see them, something then allows me to relate the face to something apparently stored in my memory, but if you asked me to draw the face, I would not do well at that. It is not surprising there would be a lot of variability between different people on such abilities being the brain is so complex we still have little knowledge on how it does what it does.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
10,406
Another related skill or ability is reducing reality down to what you want to see or hear. We were trained how to narrow out audio or visual signals from the 'big' picture and only hear/see the small details that were important. Don't known what it's called but it's like being able to hear a slightly off-key instrument in a band of many instruments, see misplaced details in a picture or a mechanic hearing irregular valve taps. They would play various AV details with X target detail added a some level to see if you recognized it after an initial session explaining what to listen for. I don't think these skills of mental recognition or manipulation are anything special as I've seen a wide spectrum of young people become very capable with practice and time.

https://learnfluteonline.com/lfp-076-learning-hear-small-details-music/
One of the most vital skills for a creative musician is called “active listening”.

Active listening is the ability to do the exact opposite of the “automatic filtering” we just discussed! Where our mind just kind of puts out all the details and listens to the whole. Instead of letting our brain tune out from the music and ignore it, you choose to actively and consciously pay attention to the parts of the music you hear.

Really focusing in on nothing but the music hitting your ears.

It takes time, and because it takes a little bit of time, most people just glaze over these kinds of details as they are basically just in a hurry to get to the end.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
27,389
I think the vast majority of people have pretty good "active listening" skills. The most common example that comes to mind is when you are in a crowded place with all kinds of noise, including other conversations, going on around you and you are able to focus on the conversation you are interested in, even when it is softer than some of the others. I think most people have no problem listening to a piece of music and switching their focus from the percussion to the lead vocals to the background vocals to the string instruments. I have little doubt that some people do this much better than the norm and that many people can train themselves to do much better than they can naturally -- my daughter and I were talking the other day about her violin practice methods and she generally tracks down recordings of pieces she is learning, which are always full orchestra performances of the piece, and is able to quite handily focus on the first violin part or the second part depending on her needs -- but I think the core ability is there in the vast majority of people and we use it all the time.

How often do we consciously decide to listen for specific things to answer questions of immediate interest, such as whether it is raining outside, or is my computer fan running. Just now, as I was typing this, I was completely unaware of any sound around me, not even the clacking of the keyboard keys. Then I asked myself, "What do I really hear?" and the first thing that captured my focus was the tick-tock of a mechanical clock and I was immediately able to focus on it and still not hear the much louder keyboard keys. Then I wondered what else I was hearing and the next thing that snapped into focus was the fan in the desktop computer. After that it was a very faint humming from my laptop or possibly the monitor next to it. It was only after that that I noticed the presence of the comparatively quite loud clicking of the keyboard. Shifting through all of these took perhaps ten seconds, and I can easily steer my hearing to any of them at will and push the others pretty deep into the background. I think that most people can do something comparable and do do so quite regularly without even realizing it.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
10,406
We have a scheduled engineering walk-though of facilities (pumps, compressor, fans etc..) spaces to look and listen for the out of ordinary. The out of ordinary pattern detection is the skill that needs to be learned and honed. Good "active listening" skills are IMO innate but they need to be honed by experience and practice to be sensitive to things other than what the brain has naturally evolved to decode for survival like the sudden and unexpected quiet, tall grass shifting with the wind, and subtle changes of shade.
 
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xox

Joined Sep 8, 2017
787
The following two articles for Wikipedia explain these terms:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperphantasia


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphantasia


Both deal with the ability to visualize (problems, events, objects, etc. in your head). I don't consider this to be a gift I have much of and yet I seem to do just fine in mathematics and engineering without it. Just wondering what others on the forum think about this and how good (or not good in my case) do you feel you are at this?
I would think quite a lot of people have such an ability, to one extent or another. No? Sometimes your mind is really inspired by a problem. That happened to me, when I (re?)discovered the "metallic triangles". (Yes I authored that section.) I was just sitting there one day and just all the sudden saw it in my mind's eye: It was a right-triangle. First side was length one, the other one-half. I wondered, is the sum anything interesting? Then I visualized a hinge at the vertex, swinging the hypotenuse out to come in line with the 1/2 length side. Instantly, I realized that I was looking right at the golden ratio! And then of course generalized the idea to include the rest of them (silver, bronze, etc). So that was a pretty cool moment. (And yes I was able to come up with a reference to support those edits; although not explicitly constructing from the exact triangles described, the paper did essentially accomplish the same thing, so thankfully the new section was allowed to stay.)


"" There was a study once where people where asked if they felt they where above average in IQ.

80% (or some number like that) thought they where.

That is an interesting situation because if the sample size is large enough it should represent

most people and obviously the number should be closer to 50% ""


This is due to the "Dunning-Kruger-Effect" ...........

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect


"" The brain also requires pretty much all of the vitamins, all of the minerals,

trace minerals, carbohydrates etc. ""


Accurate with the exception that Carbohydrates are completely unnecessary.


Your Body can create any required Glucose, (Sugar), from Proteins with little effort,

( Sugars, contrary to popular belief, are not important to good health.

Regular ingestion of Sugars is actually detrimental to your Health,

and is the direct, and only, cause of Diabetes ).


Highly refined Carbohydrates turn into damaging Sugars within minutes of ingesting them.

Alcohol is one of the worst offenders, it turns into Sugar within seconds.

Fruit-Juices are equally bad, ( Fructose is the most damaging form of Sugar ).

.

.

.
Interesting, so an extension of the "high protein diets tend to yield the best results" rule of thumb. As for myself, I can't even imagine going a single day without toast! (Whole wheat, dark.) Maybe a good compromise would to devote some exercise (cardio?) in order to offset all of those loaves? I don't eat too much bread, per se. But I do consume a lot of carb-rich foods in general. So, yeah.
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
2,501
I used to love my Mom making "Cinnamon-Toast" for Breakfast,
but it's totally evil stuff.
Even plain Toast is much more damaging than Plain-Bread because it has been "Burnt".
Burnt-Food of any description is unhealthy.
And, to make things worse, almost everybody piles-on Fructose in the form of Jellies and Jams etc.
All really tasty Poisons which will SLAM your Immune-System.
.
.
.
 

xox

Joined Sep 8, 2017
787
I used to love my Mom making "Cinnamon-Toast" for Breakfast,

but it's totally evil stuff.

Even plain Toast is much more damaging than Plain-Bread because it has been "Burnt".

Burnt-Food of any description is unhealthy.

And, to make things worse, almost everybody piles-on Fructose in the form of Jellies and Jams etc.

All really tasty Poisons which will SLAM your Immune-System.

.

.

.


The again, "everything in moderation". A slice or two of slightly burnt toast with a spot of butter and jam now and then probably isn't going to hurt you in the long run. But do watch portion sizes. (And again, exercise if need be.) Gradually, you learn what is reasonable for your particular metabolic profile.

Thankfully, I am still in pretty decent shape, so I can splurge here and there. Which is precisely why I try to stay active in the first place. Because who wants to live without iced gingerbread cake? :D


*EDIT*
Back to the original topic now: Are there any hyperphantasiatics out there who can clearly visualize whirled peas?
*EDIT*
 
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