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Narrative experience in aphantasia


Time frame

January 2021 - June 2023

Project description

Aphantasia is an under-researched condition in which people are unable to experience visual imagery, either voluntary or spontaneous, whilst being unaffected in visual perception. Aphantasics also have difficulty remembering the past and imagining the future. Since reading stories engages visual imagery (Mak & Willems, 2019), and visual imagery is thought to be crucial for story appreciation and absorption, we wonder whether story processing in aphantasics will be qualitatively different to story processing in individuals without aphantasia. The main aim of this project therefore is to understand how aphantasia affects narrative reading experience. Critically, assessing how lack of visual imagery affects narrative experience will help us understand the key cognitive processes at play during narrative understanding. Furthermore, this special population helps to map out the broad spectrum of individual differences in reading experience.


Visual imagery, story processing, narratives


This project is internally funded by the Centre for Language Studies


Laura Speed, laura.speed@ru.nl