Aphantasia Cure: How Alec Figueroa Helps Clear The Self-Diagnosis Confusion

AphantasiaMeow Logo for Interview with Aphantasia Cure Expert Alec FigueroaIf you’ve been looking for an aphantasia cure, you’re in luck.

Here’s why:

Alec Figueroa of AphantasiaMeow has been developing an objective aphantasia test while working with real people.

As a result of his research and helping create change with clients, Alec has uncovered some of the most likely paths you might need to find a lasting solution.

Not Sure If You Need The Aphantasia Cure?

Try this quick test:

Imagine you are on a beach at sunset.

Can you hear the waves crashing against the shore?

Do you feel a gentle breeze against your skin and the sand between your toes?

Can you taste the faint saltiness of the ocean? Can you picture the fiery hues as the sun meets the water on the horizon?

Red, orange, yellow, purple, and blue. Beautiful, isn’t it? Peaceful. Serene.

More questions…

When you close your eyes and picture this scene is it vivid?

Is it an experience as if you are really there? Can your sensory memory pick out a variety of sensations?

Or is your experience lost in fog… dull, distorted, and distant?

Or… is there nothing, only blackness?

If you see nothing in your mind…

Listen To Someone Who Cares About Curing Aphantasia

On today’s Magnetic Memory Method podcast I speak with imagination and aphantasia expert, Alec Figueroa.

Also known as “AphantasiaMeow,” Alec has been helping many people remove aphantasia from their lives.

We discuss his work with those who struggle with the idea that they do not have a “mind’s eye.”

And those who may not have been able to picture that beautiful beach at sunset have experienced tremendous relief.

Although this phenomenon was first introduced in 1880, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that the idea of mental blindness began to be explored.

With studies still in the early stages as compared to other mental health fields Alec is on the forefront of bettering the lives of those whose imaginations are not as vivid as they would like.

Why People Seek Help When They Can’t Visualize

You may be skeptical of this idea of aphantasia, finding it hard to believe that someone couldn’t close their eyes and picture a juicy red apple, a shiny new bicycle, or freshly fallen snow on command.

But I feel empathy, because I don’t really see pictures in my mind either. And if curiosity is driving you, read on and click play on the episode to hear Alec’s approach to removing the problem.

You may have come here searching for answers because (depending on the source) you are the 4-5% of the population, or the 1 in 50, who is affected by aphantasia.

You may have heard of Alec’s work and wondered “Can he help me?” or, better still, “Can he help me help myself?”

Whatever the case, you are here now. And there really does seem like Alec’s aphantasia cure will help you.

And it seems to me that part of the reason Alec’s approach works is because many people seek help due to FOMO (fear of missing out).

That means they might be forgetting to focus on the glorious experiences they do have (such as we’ve seen from Penn Jillette).

But if you’re on this page, you’re either on a self-help journey for yourself, a loved one, or simply seeking to expand your knowledge on cutting edge brain health discoveries.

Interview Highlights

By listening to this interview today, you’ve taken the first step and congratulations are in order…we’ll be imagining ourselves sipping memory friendly drinks from coconuts sooner than you think!

All you need to do is press play and you will discover:

  • How to define the concepts of aphantasic, hyperphantasic, and prophantasic
  • Aphantasia versus a disorder (you don’t have to feel at a disadvantage to others)
  • The confusion surrounding aphantasic self-diagnosis techniques
  • Why a visual imagination may not be present
  • How to develop the mind’s eye through mental exercise
  • Image streaming as aphantasia therapy
  • “Imagery” as a multisensory concept
  • Parallels between meditation and mind’s eye development
  • How to overcome mental blocks and learned helplessness to improve mental imagery through some powerful visualization exercises

In sum, there are many brain training exercises out there. But if you have aphantasia, what Alec offers is most likely the best. Follow up with him and let him help you!

Further Resources on the Web, This Podcast, and the MMM Blog:

Aphantasia Meow. This is Alec’s official website. It includes the VIVIQ (Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire). This test was originally developed at the University of Exeter and is still under development.

Alec interviews me about my experience of SUDDENLY becoming visual:

As I mentioned above, Alec is doing hands on work with people and creating positive transformation. Book a time with him if you need help!

AphantasiaMeow on YouTube

Scientific American – When the Mind’s Eye is Blind

Aphantasia: Experiences, Perceptions, and Insights

Aphantasia: Develop Your Memory Even if You Cannot See Mental Images

32 Responses

  1. When I close my eyes I see myself traveling around the world with my parents, my sisters and brothers. I do not see it in vivid colors in my imagination.

    But I can Visualize it cause I learned from your Visualization practices.

    When I do not take an action it is because I do not see the opportunity.

    When you talk about meditation i remember “Kaliman”, the incredible man. He said: “Who masters the mind, masters everything”.

    I agree with you that I am complete with my memory. I like spirituality and I will like to know more about Karma Yoga.

    Thanks for sharing this “Aphantasia cure”.

    1. My pleasure, Maricela, and glad you’re following the visualization exercises.

      We’ll talk more about Karma Yoga in the future. Let me know if you have any specific questions about it.

  2. I just want to know if you have been doing any research on SDAM? Or if you know anything that could help?

  3. Hey there, Victoria and Anthony!

    I personally have not gotten the chance yet to work with anyone who experiences SDAM, so my knowledge is fairly limited here. I have read online that those who experience SDAM have supported their memory with journals, photographs, and rehearsal techniques, but there doesn’t exist yet a method to follow to improve the amount which one recalls. I’m definitely open to chatting more about it and seeing if we can impact the conscious experience of SDAM.

    1. Thanks for the quick response for Victoria, Alec!

      Journaling and photographs are huge. Even though I seem to have a strong autobiographical memory, I have done ample doses of both.

      I think another angle to explore would be visiting more places and doing more things with the intention to remember – ideally things with a high novelty to them.

      There is some research on the role of norepinephrine in memory production. The studies I’ve said say that it is triggered when we are in novel situations. So perhaps a weekly outing to a new cafe that you photograph and journal about followed by regularly visiting both can do a great deal for you in addition to working with Alec.

      Thanks to you both – I’m grateful for the discussion and you both enabling us all to help each other at higher levels.

  4. Lovely and fascinating interview(and no interruptions of either of the speakers. A rarity these days). I notice that aphantasia studies grade people from 10 to zero in terms of the degree of difficulty they have. I don’t see black when I try to imagine things. If my mind’s eye is a rectangle frame, the lower right corner may produce a picture, and it’s distorted and brief. I get flashes of images, and they are not rectangle images. They are like the cut tool in Photoshop, in that I only briefly see a distorted cut section. I cannot manipulate it, and it goes as quick as it appears. It is also zoomed in too much.

    I call it the Tiger Woods problem. This was before I even heard of aphantasia. I’m a big fan of Tiger. If I try to imagine him swinging a golf club, the start of the swing is an image(not a video) and it’s distorted. Everything except Tiger is blacked/greyed out but the black and grey is fizzing like someone put a shroud over the background image and it’s struggling to contain it. The swing itself is not a video, but a series of mangled images. The size of Tiger changes, a shot cuts to his hands with the golf club, but the club is on top of his hands rather than Tiger holding it. It is extremely frustrating. My mother and my brother are artists. They can literally draw anything and the result looks like it was a photograph. If I were to draw a man, it would be a matchstick man. I have a maths degree, and find math and programming easy. How can I do stochastic calculus but cannot visualize, with any control, the most simple thing. I cannot draw to save my life.

    As I side note to the Win Wenger method. The method calls for speaking out loud to someone or to a voice recorder. I can understand this, but might offer another way. According to Karl Popper, there are three worlds. Reality, what’s in your head, and the expression of what’s in your head. Speaking internally is still the second world. When you speak out loud, it’s the third world. Writing down what’s in your head is also classed as the third world. So instead of speaking out loud, write down the associations.

    1. Many thanks for stopping by to share this, Adam.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to describe the Tiger Woods Problem.

      I think I have something similar to the “distortions” you describe. I always just called it “ghostly.” I never found it frustrating or problematic though.

      Have you ever tried learning to draw? Even with barely any visualization ability, I managed to get fairly decent at it. And more importantly than any “skill” with it, I’ve come to take great pleasure in drawing.

      I like your variation on speaking into a recorder. I’ve taught MMM students for many years to write down their Magnetic Imagery. That has helped both visual and non-visual people precisely because it helps them experience cognition in multiple worlds, which is always good for forming stronger memories.

      Thanks again and look forward to hearing from you soon!

  5. I used to always joke with my little brother that I would be the one that got dementia, as I have never been able to form memories in images, never “seen” the word I want to spell, or recalled a dream. He, however, has an impeccable memory. Watching it like a video, pause/rewind as many times as he wanted, picking up on the smallest of details.

    Well the other night we were out to dinner with a cousin talking about my lack of image memory. She mentioned aphantasia. After a few google searches, a lot of tears, and here I am…

    I am a highly educated person, degrees, masters, very successful heath career, and a teacher at a university- so clearly intellect isn’t affected, and now I know my brain isn’t broken!!!

    I would love to remember in detail, the birth of my children, my wedding day, my kids first steps, all those amazing mile stones, and hopefully one day I can.but right now, sooooo many question!!!!!!

    It would be so cool to see a comparison of an aphantasia brain and a “normal” brain. To see more research into this area. Like – is this linked to my dyslexia? Why can my brother have such an amazing memory recall, but I have a black hole? Could this be linked to trauma? Is it a miss fire of some synapse?

    Thank you for your video 🙂

    1. Thanks for checking this out, Jade, and your extensive discussion. Your brain is definitely not broken and your many degrees attests to that.

      I’d have to look up the reference, but from studies I’ve seen, there are no differences in the two brains. Apparently the visual centers light up just the same, even if you don’t see images.

      I do not see any evidence that seeing images has anything to do with memory. In fact, Lynne Kelly is currently Australia’s senior memory competitor. She identifies as having aphantasia and is highly regarded for her memory. I’m confident you can be too if you learn these techniques and practice them.

      Let me know if you need any help getting started. 🙂

  6. Hello

    I wanted to share my experience too, because I think one could put me in the aphantasia group. I never knew that people actually see things inside their head, but now that I know about this, I feel like missing something big in my life.

    But I had some weird experience a couple days ago while listening to binaural beats while meditating. A green circle popped out of nowhere before my closed eyes. It was bright and looked like it was there for real. It was just for a split second but it was there. Standing out of the black background I normally have.

    Maybe this can help someone to create imagination.

    Have a great day


    1. Thanks, Patrick.

      I have a post on binaural beats and want to update it. I’ll dig around and see if there is any connection between them and aphantasia. That could be potentially fruitful for people.

      Thanks again!

  7. Hello again.

    Is there a way to contact you? I found out a couple things for myself while trying to imagine stuff. Maybe it’s too long to post it here I don’t know. Can I write it to you on email or something else? I can imagine stuff now. It’s very shadowlike with closed eyes and with open eyes it’s see-through, but at least it works. I saw an acorn, an elephant in detail and an koala bear chewing salad 😀

    1. Very cool results, Patrick!

      You certainly can get in touch. It’s just anthony@ and my website address.

      However, in the spirit of helping others, please consider posting your story on this page. Burying it in email will limit the power of your experiences and I’d really love for people to be able to access your transformation.

      Would you be willing to do that for the benefit of all who find this page?

    2. 1. A year later! Patrick, will you post your technique even if you’re not sure if it works or not.
      Even if you are afraid it sounds silly. If there’s a kernel of truth it can be picked up by someone else.

      2. As for your post on January 12, 2020 at 11:23 pm regarding shutting down the verbal, very interesting. Betty Edwards used the analogy(just an analogy) of right brain and left brain to describe why some people cannot draw. To paraphrase, she said that the left brain dominates the right and insists on doing the right hemisphere’s job. She shows this to you using a simple test. On your computer, download an image e.g. The Mona Lisa. Open up the image and spend 5 minutes drawing it on a physical piece of paper.

      Using your computer, rotate the Mona Lisa, so it’s upside down on your screen. Spend 5 minutes drawing the picture on paper again. Draw the Mona Lisa, literally upside down.

      The results might astound you. In the second case, the left side cannot get a grip, so it gives up and allows the right to take over.

      With Aphantasia, the computer is working fine, but the monitor switch is turned off. The image is actually there and available to the rest of the mind. What if you can turn it on using this train of thought.

  8. A year ago I started to learn about the ego, meditation and spirituallity. Watched countless videos from Alan watts, krishnamurti, Eckhart tolle and so on and they all have one in common. Silence the mind!

    So I started practicing to stop the chatter in the mind. It worked well. I thought I have stopped thinking by stopping the chatter. But one day I realized that the voice inside my head are not thoughts, but a representation of thoughts.
    I was meditating and whenever a conversation startet, I stopped it. Sometimes right in the middle of the sentence. But then I realized, that even without verbalizing it, I knew what I wanted to say. Not verbally but more like a feeling that wants to be spoken out.

    Maybe you know that moment when you want to say something, but you don’t have the right words for it. You already know what you want to say!

    And now, combined with what I know about aphantasia, I thought verbalizing thought (which is of course memory) is just one way of thought expressing itself. By not thinking verbally about an elephant for example, I can squeeze an image out of my mind. Kinda like a muscle I have never used before. I’m sure it’s not a seperate muscle but just for the example I call it so.
    When I verbalize the details, they don’t appear in the image

    Maybe the brain has just not learned in childhood, that thought can be expressed in many different ways. Verbalizing was the easiest way at that time so it stuck to that. So try to think about anything, without verbalizing it inside your head. Maybe you can get the feeling of how to squeeze out images too.

    Good luck with that!

    1. Thanks for explaining more about your experiences, Patrick. I think you’re right that there is a lot to be explored in meditation for aphantasia relief or making progress towards more mental experience.

      In fact, that’s probably what happened to me as well, and I am getting closer to releasing a book that goes deep into the topic.

      Some people do think that this visualization situation has to do with a “mental muscle” not developed in childhood. Who knows?

      As for thinking without verbalizing, Gary Weber has a cool exercise in Happiness Beyond Thought. Count from 1-10 but suppress all of the even numbers. It’s very challenging to not represent half of a journey, but a great brain exercise.

  9. I have Aphantasia and I have recently found this out.
    I feel very sad and feeling as my access to my higher spiritual self is limited as I cannot practice guided meditation with any real success. I feel something is missing. what type of meditation are you referencing which involves separating from thoughts? I’d like to try it to see if I can help my brain develop this pathway.

    1. Thanks for this, Katie.

      I’m actually talking about a combination of several kinds of meditation. I detail this “meditation habit stack” in a book called The Victorious Mind: How to Master Memory, Meditation and Mental Well-Being. It’s on Amazon.

      The short version is my TEDx Talk. It’s called “Two Easily Remembered Questions That Silence Negative Thoughts” and should come up with a quick Google Search.

      Hope it helps!

  10. I can visualize sometimes it seems but I can’t feel the sensations like I can’t feel anything when I visualize but I can kind of see stuff I am an athlete and have been using it lately for sports performance and I usually use it when I read but I can see and hear my visualizations my mind is like a radio I can perfectly repeat whole songs with but I can’t feel my feet on the ground or sell when I visualize and my visualizations are rather cloudy sometimes If you could get back to me on this it would be well appreciated, thank you. – Casey Quinn

    1. Thanks for your note about this.

      One thing to inquire about is:

      1. Are you really hearing the music play back in your head? If so, how would you describe that hearing and how is it the same or different from actual hearing? How would you test that you can actually playback a song perfectly? Can you hum it out into a recording note for note with all the lyrics and reasonably match the recording?

      2. What does “cloudy” mean? If you have something, what is that something and how does it differ from using your eyes to see things? How would you ever know if anyone else visualizes in any way that is different or similar to yours?

      3. Why would kinesthetic visualization ever be or need to be like the real feeling of having your feet on the ground? Are the studies of sports previsualization ever talking about this as a requirement for improved performance?

      Hope these questions help you on your quest.

  11. Wow.
    I just realized this a few hours ago (thanks YouTube) and this completely fits me. I got into drawing since I was always terrible at simply describing something I’ve seen before, and I have never thought twice about it since trying to imagine or recall something was like trying to use a limb that didn’t exist, and that I didn’t know exist.

    Something odd is that whenever I draw something, I can visualize it somewhat. (Still b&w, flat and missing details, but I was so thrilled when I couldn’t visualize an apple, but I could at least remember this drawing I was so proud of)

    1. Thanks for sharing this interesting experience.

      What happens if you draw an apple and then imagine that drawing?

      What happens if you imagine drawing a drawing of a drawing of an apple?

      Exercises like that might help.

  12. I’m an artist with no imagination. I can get a sense of things like how big it might be, but it’s never a visual thing. It’s always just a logical calculation based on similarly sized/shaped things. I can dream very vividly, but I cannot imagine for the life of me. I’ve tried meditation and visual practices whenever I close my eyes or take a moment to myself. I’ve done this sort of stuff for years, and I’ve never been able to get any sort of visuals in my mind’s eye.

    It hurts knowing I don’t have this imagination like most people. It’s like knowing that everyone else has wings and you don’t. So, you’ll never get to know what it’s like to fly above the clouds without someone/something else having to do it for you (ie: plane, friend carrying you, etc.) You feel like you’re missing out on something incredible. It’s how I feel about not having an imagination, especially since I’m a very visual person and require visual aids to help me learn and understand things better.

    Do you have any suggestions for someone who’s tried meditation and other exercises without success? Are your exercises a little different than the others online about visual practice? I’d love to learn how to actually have an imagination and finally get to see the things I wish to create in my mind’s eye.

    1. Thanks for this, Bethany.

      My main suggestion is to reconsider the status of your imagination as it is. It’s quite a miracle to have consciousness in the first place.

      Plus, you write so elegantly with strong visual metaphors about flying above the clouds and so forth. At the same time, you seem unaware of how rare and unique such powers of description are and how many vivid visualizers are envious right now of talented writers like yourself.

      So the first thing to do is drop the hurt and the notion that others have something you don’t have. Even if that is true, the only place that the realization is taking place is in your brain, your consciousness awareness. This is the miracle of perception and the first and foremost thing meditation can teach you.

      I talk about how I meditated for years without visuals in a book called The Victorious Mind: How to Master Memory, Meditation and Mental Well-Being. The long and short of it is that I worked with what I had, which is exactly what every person needs to do. Playing games of comparison with what others have is the quickest path to suffering, so the first step is to stop playing that game, or at least become aware of when it is happening.

      Then, if you listen to the interview I gave on the “aphantasia cure” page on this site, you’ll discover that I finally did start to visualize and quite quickly wanted to get rid of it. It’s not so special and I personally find it distracting now that I’ve got it. Having it has even made me bungle a few memory demonstrations I would have normally aced without issue. All of which is to say we all need to be careful what we wish for. The fantasy is often much better than the reality.

      In all things, I do hope you can solve the mystery for yourself, but as far as I can tell from this small amount of writing, your powers of expression are firing on all cylinders. As a professional writer of many years who has counseled others who wish they could write, rest assured, many people are hurting because they cannot express themselves in the ways that you have here in your post. I am repeating this point because it is the point that matters above all. Meditation is only going to help people realize that all things are perfect as they are, and even more perfect than you realize when you finally understand that all those other people you think have something you don’t are being processed within you. You are doing far more than seeing them mentally, to the point of creating pain when that understanding could be bliss.

      Does this way of looking at things help you out in any regard?

  13. Hello, Anthony

    Would the bridging technique be wise to implement if one can not sharply imagine other’s faces. As far as I am concerned, the bridging technique requires the mind to imagine characters that we follow along on a journey. Thus, if I can not imagine them vividly should I not use the bridging technique and possibly imagine everything from a first point of view? This way, I would not have to remember any faces and only remember the details of plain objects which would be infinitely easier.

    Does it matter if we remember objects vividly in a memory palace? Am I fine if I know the placements of said objects in my memory palace that I can then de-code or is vivid memory required?

    Every time I visit my memory palace, I have to reassemble the characters from recent memories- I can never have a concrete image of what a character looks like. Does this hinder performance?

    I understand that there is a podcast for this, but what would be your top three tips for curing aphantasia?

    Also, I decided to implement the magnetic modes inside of my memory castle due to my aphantasia. But I am confused with some of the modes. My questions being; what would vibrant actually mean? Does it mean vibrant colors, or maybe something else? What would be the difference between strange and crazy? Forceful and dynamic? And what does animated mean? If you could give me some examples that would be appreciated, as I could counter my weak imagination.

    Best regards, Sergey

    1. Using Bridging Figures in no way requires seeing faces at all, let alone sharply imagining them. I don’t even know what that would mean and I use the technique very well.

      What we are going for is perhaps better described as “elaborated.” There are many ways to do this and in the MMM Masterclass, nearly 30 are listed (depending on how you count them).

      I don’t know what you mean by having to reassemble characters, but I see no reason to need any character to be concrete. I don’t know what this would mean in this context or why it would be necessary.

      As for the top tips, I would suggest people go through the episode you mentioned. It negates the need for tips and suggests people focus on the fundamentals. Mastering the core skills is the tip.

      Finally, what “vibrant” means is up to you. The better way to improve in this area is to ask yourself, or tell us in this conversation:

      What is the difference between strange and crazy? What happens in your mind when you play around with those concepts? Can you apply what does happen in your mind to your goals with the Memory Palace technique?

      This is how I solved this issue for myself. Instead of trying to treat the lack of a mind’s eye as a problem, I treated as a path to a solution.

      By constantly asking the questions to myself that you’re asking me, I was able to make this work, and it works very well.

      Overall, I don’t know enough about what you’re memorizing or what associations you’re bringing to help yourself memorize that specific information. It would be useful if you brought more specifics to the discussion so we can avoid generalizations.

      One thing that is not a generalization is that anyone can do this, and simply asking oneself the questions is a great strategy:

      “If I could hear Godzilla’s foot smashing a car in my imagination, what would that be like?”

      The answer is almost always the answer, and you place that answer in the space of the Memory Palace you’ve chosen for the association and elaborate it with all the Magnetic Modes and the 20+ other techniques for elaboration.

      I suggest not worrying about whether the association is “vivid” or not. Concentrate instead of discovering ways to make the process effective. Then, when effectiveness has been reliably achieved, work on refining for efficiency.

      Does this way of approaching the art of memory sound doable to you?

    1. Chinese is great and I’m pleased by how far I’ve gotten with it, despite many obstacles.

      Glad you found my thoughts on the matter useful. Keep going with the memory arts – many rewards will surely follow.

    1. Thanks for your post, Jan.

      I have thoroughly removed it from my life.

      But I’m not yet sure there is consensus that it is really a problem, which puts the status of it having a “cure” in unknown territory.

      Have you had a formal diagnosis?

      How would you describe how the experience shows up for you in your life?

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Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, names, music, poetry and more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.

Dr. Metivier holds a Ph.D. in Humanities from York University and has been featured in Forbes, Viva Magazine, Fluent in 3 Months, Daily Stoic, Learning How to Learn and he has delivered one of the most popular TEDx Talks on memory improvement.

His most popular books include, The Victorious Mind and… Read More

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