Question goes viral: Can you picture things in your head?

April 8, 2022 8:49 am in by

zebra feature

A Reddit post has gone viral with a simple question about whether people can see pictures in their head.

User grantedwishx33 posted “Can people really picture things in their head?” in the NoStupidQuestions forum, and it’s created a lively discussion with more than 2,000 comments. 

“My friend told me to close my eyes and imagine a zebra in a green field. I obviously know what both things look like, and it registers in my mind but… I don’t literally see a zebra standing in a field… do some people actually have that ability?” they posted.

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And the replies are… well, hurting people’s heads as they try to describe what they do – or don’t – see.

Try it now: imagine a zebra in a green field

Do you see the image in your mind’s eye – the animal’s shape, maybe the head and legs, the black and white stripes, the green grass?

Or do you get nothing, just blackness or maybe fuzzy colours or shapes?

It seems you either can visualise images in your mind, or you can’t.

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Which side are you on?

Obviously seeing something in real life is different to visualising or imagining it in your mind’s eye, but many people can still see an “image” in their head.

The best description of seeing an image, ironically, was a musical reference, something you can’t see in real life!

These commenters also tried to explain it:

But some people can’t see anything at all. 

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User OneLastSmile wrote: “I don’t see visually like through my eyes in my brain. That doesn’t mean I can’t envision what things look like, it’s more just my brain registers what I’m imagining without any visual to go along with it. I just know what I’m imagining.”

Apparently not being able to visualise images in your mind is called aphantasia.

And it might explain why some people love reading novels and can visualise the story like a movie, while others just see words and don’t always enjoy reading.

What’s your experience? Can you see images or no images in your mind’s eye when asked to imagine something?


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Main image: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock


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