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Do you think in pictures?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Loomis, Jul 16, 2012.

Do you think in pictures or words?

  1. I think in Words!

    22 vote(s)
    17.2%
  2. I think in Pictures!

    95 vote(s)
    74.2%
  3. I have no idea what you mean! (This means you should post a reply to the thread)

    11 vote(s)
    8.6%
  1. Magna

    Magna Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Yes, it was a post on WP. I don't remember the exact post or the specific subject, but someone remarked that they didn't have a narration in their mind when they were writing, typing or reading text. I'd said I'd never heard of such a thing nor did I think it was possible. Other people also said they didn't have a narration when writing or reading.
     
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  2. Barymore

    Barymore nevertheless, she persisted V.I.P Member

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    @Magna @HeroOfHyrule
    Hmmm, if its what you are describing, then for me its just meaning that flows and is expressed as words on the page directly as I write - not in my head. This only happens if I get into the flow.
    Picture a vase.... you can see it AND you know thats a vase. So maybe you can kind of comprehend knowing on its own without also a picture or a word? Dunno if that is any help at all really. Or have you ever smelled a fox or heard a bird sing and you know exactly what it is without seeing the whole thing?
    I suppose its kind of like that.
     
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  3. HeroOfHyrule

    HeroOfHyrule Chicken Chaser

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    I actually think that makes sense. Thank you for explaining that, it was helpful.
     
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  4. Karamazov

    Karamazov Well-Known Member

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    When I read or write there’s no pseudo-voice in my head, and no images or visualisation of text either: just an awareness of a flow of words as, well “pure words” is the only way I know to put it... as if the letters and spellings are a cloak that is draped over and conceals the reality of words as they pass from consciousness to text or text to consciousness.

    When a poetic flow comes about this is instantaneous, the thought and the act of writing one and the same: with actual poetry I’ve written I have no idea what it means... it simply occurs and is.

    When I read non-fiction I do get visualisations, but they’re 3D simulations of the form of the ideas, concepts, theories embodied in the text as I understand them.

    So for instance I see the idea of the Christian Trinity, and Marx’s conceptual integration of the different types of economic value, as the same form. Subject and context are different, but the structure is identical as I perceive them.

    I rarely have visualisation with fiction: the occasional static image of a building, or more rarely a female character (I don’t think I’ve ever visualised a male character).

    When I visualise my artwork in my mind it’s always in relation to a real object I’ve seen directly or in a photograph, and the thought focuses on geometrically reducing that seen image to it’s core formal essence... and then extrapolating back out to produce a regular design from irregular reality.
     
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  5. Ella Spell

    Ella Spell Something

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    Not at all. I have aspects of Aphantasia.
     
  6. BenderRodriguez

    BenderRodriguez Well-Known Member

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    I can't vote: neither.

    I can visualise things if I want to or it serves a purpose and sometimes I "compose" text in my head before writing it or having a conversation. I do both deliberately if that makes sense.

    But I don't have an inner voice when reading or thinking. Barymore mentioned "meaning that flows" and I related to some of Karamazov's post too.

    I usually think in "concepts" I guess - maybe abstract thinking would be the word for it?
     
  7. BenderRodriguez

    BenderRodriguez Well-Known Member

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    As a side note, I can't even imagine what it's like to think in pictures, I'm not a visual person at all and don't respond much to visual stimuli. I don't like watching videos or learning through visual cues, I even prefer written instructions for most things.

    I do appreciate beauty in an almost purely esthetical way though and I like film and art - but somehow that's also strongly connected to looking for meaning or ideas in them.

    This is all very complicated, I wonder how much it can affect efficient communication :emojiconfused:
     
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  8. Ella Spell

    Ella Spell Something

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    In my ASD test they said I'm not a visual learner or even an auditory learner. I only learn by reading. I can picture things briefly with relative detail but I can't hold the image for more than a few seconds. It's like a flash. My sensory memories are much stronger. If I try to recall something from childhood, instead of searching my visual memory I will search through my sensory lexicon to recall a smell or a texture. That usually helps me remember other sensory elements and combine them to make a memory. I'm also completely face blind to the extent that I don't even recognise my brother's two step sons. I can't tell them apart and I wouldn't know them in a line up of four people. No they aren't even twins.
     
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  9. Jobin Reed

    Jobin Reed New Member

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    I definitely think in pictures and it is somewhat maddening. Have you ever seen a movie where the person is being tortured or someone is trying to brain wash another. they put them in front of a TV with flashing images that are up for only a split second. that is how my brain is constantly. It is hard to talk to others and make sense because inhave to force my brain to slow down to concentrate and that is physically draining. So I just listen to people for the most part. Although there are a few people and things that slow my world.
     
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  10. Transgressivecharm

    Transgressivecharm cheese in a can

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    "It takes courage to speak or react slower than you think." - Mokokoma Mokhonoana
    ;)

    I can kinda relate.
     
  11. Transgressivecharm

    Transgressivecharm cheese in a can

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    I always joked that there's a homunculus in my head with a mic turned up and linked to ambient surround sound speakers that would repeat whatever I found interesting - bizzare (started in my teens). I've had to learn to control it over the years. Today I can simulate conversations, immitate people's voices, etcetera. Utility = never a dull moment/useless jk. I'm average with language but it affords the luxury to analyze subtlties of auditory stimuli... yeah I'm an alien. :p
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
  12. Peachie

    Peachie Active Member V.I.P Member

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    Yay! More people like me. :)

    This is interesting. I can't picture anything, at all. I haven't had my assessment yet, so now I'm curious to compare. Though I can't picture anything, I think of myself as a visual learner. In that sense I think of a video as being the imaging I internally lack.

    That is interesting. Is it long enough and vivid enough to say, identify a single item from a part of the image one flash at a time?


    This entire thread is fascinating to me. That people can literally think in different ways, speaks volumes of the adaptability of mind. Is there one primary NT way, or is there diversity there as well? Is normal, the ability see images and text and go on holographic vacations in their mind?

    I originally thought of aphantasia as more of an inability to project a memory visually. I had previously thought of this as being a reason I have bad memory. If I can't access it visually even if the information is there, the connection is never strengthened, and it ends up in the neural recycler. My wife has it, but has way better memory than me. I have horrible time remembering a face or name. If your name isn't one I can associate with someone I already know, I have to work REALLY hard.

    With audio, I'm really not sure. If you can literally 'see' it visually, then I certainly can't 'hear' anything as if I have headphones on. I'm not sure how much audio plays into my memory, but I feel like I've always had an above average ability to hear the first second of a song and know exactly what it is. I'll have songs, and (ugh) sometimes ad jingles pop in my head. Somewhere between literal hearing it and nothingness, lies what I hear. If it is a song with words, unless it is a song I really know, it isn't there. But I feel like I can hear or sense it enough to kinda play a song. If I had to match notes to play a section on an instrument I knew how to play, I probably could.

    But how I think. Certainly is an internal monolog. And I'll think about the complex relationships of how they work. I'll architect complex things in my head as well. As long as all external sensory input is off, and I can focus (after I go to bed). Things are just things, and I just 'know' how they tie together. I'll do this when I'm both solving a coding problem (nothing inherently visual in the first place) to designing a 3d part in terms of how it functions. But I can't sense distance two physical components. I'll have to start throwing the design in 3D in Fusion 360, and that becomes my internal visual brain. Whiteboard is sometimes my best friend.

    To model a part...visually...in my mind. Sometimes I feel like I'm really missing out.
     
  13. wonderingmom

    wonderingmom Active Member

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    This topic is really interesting! Peachie, what about memories of past experiences or places? What happens in your mind when you think of, say, the house you grew up in, or the main street of a town you once lived in, or some other very familiar place from your past? I was trying this myself just now because I wasn’t actually sure whether I do or don’t think in pictures; I guess I definitely do, to an extent anyway - when I think of the house I grew up in, the memory is visual. I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to have a memory of a place or an event that wasn’t visual... I guess for me, the remembering really consists of picturing the place around me. (I didn’t know this until just now!) Without the picturing part, it’s more like knowing that the event happened (or that I was once in the place) than really remembering it.

    If there aren’t images for you, is there at least a sense of...sort of...space, or orientation in space? Like if you think of your house, does that conjure in your mind some sense of the layout of its rooms?

    What about navigating your way around? I’ve always assumed that people who are good at navigating (which I am really, really not!) must have some kind of map-like representation in their heads. I certainly don’t have that; I can picture places, but not at all how they are positioned in relation to each other.

    I also can’t draw anything from memory to save my life; so although I feel I can clearly picture, say, a bird, in my mind, once I try to draw one, I realize I have no idea exactly how the wings connect to the body, or how the face should look, or why the legs I just drew look so wrong. So although I can picture things, it’s only sufficient for my own musings and not for anything actually useful.
     
  14. Peachie

    Peachie Active Member V.I.P Member

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    My memory is more informational. Specific details. Where I grew up, I'm not sure I could tell you the color. I can describe the things that I guess are important. And there are a lot of things I don't inherently consider important. I could describe how the rooms were arranged and the layout. But just thinking of something like the floor. I'm pretty sure my bedroom was not carpet, along with the kitchen. But I THINK the living room did.

    If you give me a picture with lots of objects, then ask me specific questions about it. Unless I specifically tried to memorize all the items in the picture, then I'm really bad.

    The first example when I realized this was the office I work in. Been going there over a decade. I know there are two tones of colors, and the window and that color tone are intertwined. But there was never a point that I took time to look at the building, and try and remember and understand how it was arranged. That knowledge is much less important to me than where the entrances are.

    When I walk in the bedroom in the dark dark, it is just blackness. And because I like it DARK when I sleep, there isn't much in the way of tiny lights acting as a locational beacon. But I know to walk a certain direction the right number of steps, be hyper mindful of what I anticipate to be in front of me. I'll feel with my hands for certain key landmarks I know to be there. Now I imagine someone who can visualize basically walking as if they are in VR. I'm sure others would walk circles around me, but I don't feel hindered.

    Faces are horrible. I don't really care about faces, not enough to memorize unique features. But if there is something unique that catches my eye. Hair color, tattoo or a distinctive feature, then I may not remember your name, but I certainly remember YOU.

    Before I knew I couldn't picture and everyone else could I would have said I had good spacial orientation related to where I was and where I am now.

    But I have asked a lot of people about this. My current question goes something along the lines of "Can you picture a beach in your mind? Can you see the waves, the sand? Can you hear the waves crashing? Can you smell the salt in the air? Can you feel the grains of sand in your fingers? Can you modify the environment any way you can?"

    I've talked to someone who can only see a small section of the image. Like looking through a straw, they have to move it around the picture to see it all. The post above about seeing for only a couple of seconds. Some people can picture a beach, but maybe it is one they have seen. I've talked to two people who are at the extreme end of this. The first person is the reason I added the other all those other senses. They had total control of all senses in any way they want. Simply amazing. One of these people I just keep coming up with crazy visualization questions. She is as blown away that I can't see, as I am that she can.

    But getting this realization can really shock people. I have had people who couldn't see, had no clue just like me. Only one person have I ever come across that knew that others could see and they couldn't, but they didn't know it was called a thing.

    I'm curious to understand the difference between imagination and memory. I presume imagination is able to take existing constructs, put them on a stage and modify them.

    I would wonder, the bird you can picture, was it something you actually saw once? Or can you see a picture of a bird in a tinny top hat? Or a purple bird? Does the connection to the bird image wear off with repeated attempts to imagine it? Or is it focused imagining it that makes it blurry, like when you draw?

    I read an aphantasia book that said that reproduction drawing is one of the best ways to identify them as a child. Take an art class, take something (like the bird), a drawing, show it to the class, let them study it for a number of minutes. Then hide it and ask everyone to reproduce the drawing as best as they can.

    Maybe others have committed it to visual memory, but I'll be studying every detail, trying to remember as much important aspects as I can before it is gone. When everyone is done, it is pretty clear who was cloning an image in their head, and those that were winging it.

    Worst yet, if you show people the picture, then hide it and tell them to reproduce it, I'm not sure how close to the bird species mine would look like. I'd get marks against me for doing abstract art and not the assignment. ;)

    One oddity is that the moments in time I do remember, are reinforced by external images. We had a camcorder growing up, and a whole bunch of key childhood moments are on there. If you ask me what I remember about the first time I went to Disney World, nearly all of it are things that I watched in that video. Without it I presume the unused connections to the memory fade. But the memories that I can replace what I'm missing externally, those are the ones strengthened. I still can't see it...

    One thing to try, is to use words to describe what you are drawing, verbally. Take that bird image, and if you can talk to yourself, or describe it to someone. After you have done that, then try and draw the image.
     
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  15. wonderingmom

    wonderingmom Active Member

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    I’m not so good at that either - I would need to specifically memorize the objects - and for me, that would mean making a mental list and repeating the words to myself over and over for as long as I needed to remember. If I see something just once, my visual memory isn’t very detailed or long-lasting - a certain detail might happen to catch my attention for some reason, and then I might remember it, but otherwise I would only be able be to give a very general description. It’s only with things I encounter and interact with over and over again that I can visualize the details.


    It’s possible in a situation like that that I wouldn’t remember the wall colors either - in a workplace when I’m focused on what I’m doing, I think I’m a lot less aware of the visual details of my surroundings.

    I would be like you in this case - shuffling forward with arms outstretched to avoid bumping into things. Definitely not like VR.


    Have you read any of Oliver Sacks’s autobiographical writings? This was apparently true for him too. (I wonder if he may have been autistic, come to think of it...I don’t remember if he ever wrote about that, but he certainly had an unusual mind, and the sort of curiosity about other minds that people on the spectrum often seem to have.)


    Okay, this is interesting... I can picture the beach, and imagine all these sensations; but anytime I’ve been in a situation where I was being asked to visualize something like this (a yoga class where the teacher says, “now close your eyes, and I want you to imagine such-and-such...”), I’ve found it difficult to do it.


    That’s a useful distinction! So then I would classify myself as someone whose memories call up vivid images, but who doesn’t have a very strong visual imagination. Ohhhh, this is really interesting. Yeah... I appreciate art and beautiful things, but my brain doesn’t generate original visual content. And when I’m thinking about some concept - like now - my brain isn’t generating images. I guess for me, the visual aspect of things is like a backdrop against which ideas and maybe relationships play out. When I read a book that spends too long describing the landscape in minute detail - the insects buzzing, the various flora, the lay of the land - I find it tedious and hard to care about because I mostly just want to know what’s going on in the characters’ heads. (Maybe this is a bit off-point)


    I guess the bird image that I call up would be sort of a generalization of the different garden-variety birds I’ve seen in life and in pictures - although I could give it a hat or purple feathers. It isn’t that it’s difficult to sustain the image - it’s that the act of trying to draw it reveals to me how lacking in detail my mental picture is. As long as I’m not trying to really capture the image, it seems fully convincing to me. But I guess probably what’s happening is that the part of my brain that knows the concept “bird” orders up an image from the image-producing part, which spits out a vaguely bird-shaped blob, and then the part that knits the concept together with the blob thinks, “bird!” (I actually did have a bird-drawing experience not long ago - my younger son decided we should have a drawing contest, and one of us decided on a bird as the subject. I thought it would be really simple, and I was completely surprised when I couldn’t draw anything that looked remotely like a normal bird. If I can find that picture I’ll post it here. It was too upright somehow, looked slightly human, like a kind of cool dude. It struck me as so ridiculous, it made me laugh until tears were coming.)
     
  16. Peachie

    Peachie Active Member V.I.P Member

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    As if the memory were placed in a dense forest, and each time you re-encounter that image the path gets more and more cleared out till it is a paved road you can use whenever you want.

    I wonder about the difference of casually seeing an image vs trying to study, trying to remember it. If you take a picture with a bunch of different objects in it. Say you spend 60s looking at it for a week. Maybe the difference between trying to remember the items and just looking, and letting it burn in.

    I have not, On the Move: A Life? A number of those books look really interesting. I'll have to add it to my queue.

    This aspect is just fascinating to me, truly a beautiful thing.

    Interesting! So there are some things you can imagine in depth, and others are forced and really hard? When you do picture the beach, do you have to close your eyes or does it not matter?

    Wow! I can only imagine what these images look like in the mind. The idea that an image can be really clear, but the link between that image and connecting it to something else (like drawing) being problematic is really hard for me to imagine. I can imagine seeing a bird that seems really clear. Then I go to draw it, maybe I have no idea what the tail looks like, seems like I should be able to stop drawing, go back to the image and study what I want to study then go back into drawing mode. It is moving the image into the motor cortex for reproduction combined with visual feedback that is the issue? If you picture the bird, then write as detailed description, does it seem as disconnected with the details?

    This does remind me of some of the Split Brain experiments. That the information on one side, that is clear as day, just can't seem to make it at all to the other side. Maybe the motor cotex or something is on one side, the imagination / image is on the other. Wonder if a test would reveal anything?

    I'd be curious if you read Know It When We See It if there was any realization that pops out. I imagine there must be some research that has identified the brain areas that active in simple situations like this. The full sequence of thinking of a bird, do some mental manipulation of it, then try and draw it.

    I'm certainly going to keep this in the back of my mind.

    That is really interesting realization. That your primary mode is informational with augmentation with visual. You are in the between state, but possibly operate more like me in ideas and concept. Are there certain types of problems that you feel require more visual components?

    Sometimes I think it is the informational mind vs visual that makes some of the 'me' unique. I'm curious if there are aspects of how you think or solve problems that you excel above others?

    I think that in an alternate universe somewhere, I'm probably a pretty good lawyer. :)
     
  17. Finder

    Finder Active Member

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    I think in spatial/contextual relationships. That can result in images if it is from real life, but it can also be completely abstract. You could say I think in pieces and process how pieces fit. And that work on multiple dimensions: color, texture, volume, area, length, quantity, proportions, ratios, angles, luminance, syntax, grammar, etc.
     
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  18. SDRSpark

    SDRSpark Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Wow, great explanation! I think this way a lot. I had no clue how to explain it.
     
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  19. Ursus Chainus

    Ursus Chainus Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    All things in my mind are "sense tagged" in some way. Especially abstractions like letter and numbers... the number 2 is a specific shade of blue whereas 4 is red. A is red and Z is blackish. There are some other interesting tags for letters and number... something akin to a "personality" but that is really hard to put in words.

    This is because I am understanding driven and that means I am ADD which means that I process things on a contextual basis. Some ADDers don't do this as strongly as I do so I am quite extreme in my ADD (U+ in FCT)

    The human brain is a balance of Hierarchical Abstraction and Contextual Sensory storage and processing.

    This becomes part of the human experience in culture and politics. Authoritarianism is extreme Hierarchy and Egalitarianism is extreme Context.

    Because of my brain and experiences in this brain... I am a radical egalitarian.
     
  20. William Weiler

    William Weiler Ad Astra V.I.P Member

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    I have an unusual memory. When I was very young, I remember I thought with my feelings. When I was older, I thought in pictures. It wasn't until college did I start to seriously think in words. I still do the other two, but I remember the blissful spiritual state of being a child. My mind now is kind of noisy. I think that is the price of the education I got. I would say the benefits, for me, outweigh the costs. But I do miss it. My olfactory memories ae the most emotionally charged. Everything comes back with those. I feel it is the mystery of the brain, which actually isn't that much anymore. There is significant research which explains things like this. I remember in the movie Rattattoie, where the payoff scene is a taste memory for the critic, and the rats genius at evoking it. Super fun scene and ending. It had a great message that these emotions and experiences was so valuable to the critic, he relinquishes his fame.
     
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