But 98% of people actually do see the thing they’re imagining, like a picture in their head. The other 2%, like me, are aphantasic. There’s a line I like in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” I found out I was aphantasic slowly, then all at once. Decades ago, my wife began visualisation for meditation. I couldn’t do it. Not only could I not see an imaginary orange, I couldn’t see a circle or the colour orange. But I understood visualisation to be a special skill that you worked on. Rather like juggling. And I was sure that with practice I could accomplish either one of those. … [Read more...] about ‘I have no mind’s eye’: what is it like being an author with aphantasia?
This was a community of voices, as were the calls of kids and parents, cyclists on the road, walkers whistling at dogs. I imagined all the voices in passing cars or on phones and, without knowing what they were talking about, they too were a Babel, just like the birds. Neurobiologists rummaging in the undergrowth of the human brain have discovered gene products for speech which correspond to similar molecules in vocal communications in the brains of birds which learn their songs and not in birds that don't. Songbirds and humans both have "motor learning pathways" for speech and song. I walk along one of those pathways through the woods. That ability to modify or imitate acoustic structure and vocal sequences is critical behaviour for a spoken language. A shared ability, between people and birds, becomes the language of place. Here in these woods, behaviours learned from each other, and from the place we find ourselves in, become a thrilling, shared language, ringing through the trees. … [Read more...] about Communities of voices – the link between birdsong and spoken language
Kellie Payne, research and policy manager at the Campaign to End Loneliness, says that loneliness is fatal precisely because it puts people “into a kind of defensive state where the levels of cortisol are raised. Having had negative experiences, they anticipate that their connection with people will also be negative,” which makes it hard to reinstate contact. To add to the challenge for the elderly, touch sensation is in decline. According to David J Linden, author of Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind, “Humans have their strongest touch sensation at around 20, after which it goes down by a percent a year for your whole life”. … [Read more...] about No hugging: are we living through a crisis of touch?