So, you live in augmented reality?

Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes computer-generated images, sounds, and other sensory inputs onto the real world, creating an enhanced or augmented version of reality.

What would it look like for that white wall to be painted red? 

What if there was a yellow armchair resting on that rug?

It’s not physically there, but with AR, we can see what it might actually look like…

As a tech enthusiast, I find this very exciting; as an aphant, I find it shocking to learn that some visualizers live their everyday lives with an embedded version of this capability.

Rather than computer-generated images and sounds, they have brain-generated, super-imposed imaginings projected into the real world. 

This segment of visualizers is called projectors, as in they “project” their imagination into the room around them. They have the seemingly supernatural ability to superimpose people, objects, shapes and colors into their environment at will. 

They are distinct from associator types who describe visualizing “in the back of their mind.” 

I recently hosted a live, members-only discussion regarding these differences with Neuroscientist Sam Schwarzkopf

We’re unsure if a similar distinction exists in other senses, such as auditory, olfactory, gustatory or motor. It very well could, but it might be more difficult to describe.

How humans distinguish perception from mental imagery is not well understood. Still, when virtual or imagined signals are strong enough, they may become subjectively indistinguishable from reality – it’s deemed the ‘reality threshold.’

As a non-visualizer these differences may seem trivial, but to me, they’re key to understanding the full range of experience. The aphantasia<>hyperphantasia dichotomy implies a single variable with no imagery on one side and vivid imagery on the other. The projector<>associator distinction reveals the story is not so simple. 

Help me better understand these differences:

  • If you can visualize, do you “project” your imagination? Or is it experienced internally? Can you switch between them?
  • If you can imagine other senses like sound, is it experienced internally, or does it seem like it’s coming from the environment around you?