There’s a reason I ask people to think of a horse 🐎…

There’s a reason I like to ask people to think of a horse when describing aphantasia – it’s kind of my thing.

Here’s what I find fascinating: everyone’s mental image of a horse is different.

If you ask ten people to think of a horse, you will get ten different answers.

Someone might imagine a chestnut horse with a brown coat and someone else a grey horse. In one scenario, the horse could be eating grass, and in another, jump over fences.

Once, a student at the University of Waterloo told me, she pictures a Minecraft horse from a blocky video game 😂 .

That’s because mental images are entirely based on personal experiences. If you play lots of Minecraft, that’s likely what you’ll picture.

Just imagine (language gets tricky here) the implications of a conversation between people being influenced by different mental images, generated from the same language.

How often are people on different pages because of this visualization process without even realizing it? 🤔 

If our visualizations of horses differ so greatly, how different do they become when our ideas become more complex?

This fascinates me.

For me (and many people with aphantasia), it’s the idea of a horse that comes to mind. When you ask me to think of a horse, I just know that I’m thinking about it. 

This ability to focus on the concept (type) of a horse, not the visuals (token), is one of the unique strengths of aphantasia. More on “Token vs. Type” in a future email . 

Have you listened to my interview on CBC Radio, titled (you guessed it): Think of a Horse?