Can you hear that?

Imagine the sound of a guitar. Can you hear it in your mind’s ear?

I don’t mean hum to yourself in the style of a guitar, I mean literally hear the sound.

Can you change its volume or pitch? Change the sound from a guitar to a violin?

What about earworms? Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Do you “hear” the song on a loop or do you “think hum” it to yourself?

The majority of my emails have focused on the visual aspect of aphantasia. As visual creatures, it makes sense this gets the bulk of our attention. However many are unaware that aphantasia can be experienced in all of the senses.

Take musician Amy Collins, for example, who recently discovered her silent mind’s ear. It prompted quite an interesting discussion on X…Can musicians have auditory aphantasia? Yes.

For some with visual aphantasia, they can still imagine the sound of this guitar, or the quality of their parent’s voice, or the sound of waves crashing against the beach. They have visual aphantasia but auditory imagination intact.

I don’t imagine in any of the possible senses – visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, motor, etc.

Some can literally smell and taste a cup of coffee, without the coffee in front of them.

I know that I love coffee, and will have a hard time writing these emails if I skip one in the morning, but I don’t smell it, taste it, or feel the sensation of warmth in my hands as I think about holding that fresh cup.

This is full multisensory aphantasia.

Amazingly, everyone seems to have their own combination of these different imaginative capabilities, and their tendency to rely on one of the senses over the others is clear. Several recent scientific studies have confirmed this.

My 2021 interview with Anthony Padilla revealed that he chose some of the materials for his studio based on the tactile sensation of the textures. He could imagine the feeling of his hand running down a brick wall and based decisions on this powerful sensory experience.

There is a deeper level of complexity to aphantasia that is worth exploring. The team here at Aphantasia Network is studying this multi-sensory aspect of our sensory imagination in detail as I believe it holds keys to understanding the complex differences in our conscious experience as humans.

Now I ask you – can you imagine the sound of a guitar?