Thursday, June 23, 2022

Memories with a blind mind: Remembering the past and imagining the future with aphantasia

Memories with a blind mind: Remembering the past and imagining the future with aphantasia. Alexei J. Dawes et al. Cognition, Volume 227, October 2022, 105192,

Abstract: Our capacity to re-experience the past and simulate the future is thought to depend heavily on visual imagery, which allows us to construct complex sensory representations in the absence of sensory stimulation. There are large individual differences in visual imagery ability, but their impact on autobiographical memory and future prospection remains poorly understood. Research in this field assumes the normative use of visual imagery as a cognitive tool to simulate the past and future, however some individuals lack the ability to visualise altogether (a condition termed “aphantasia”). Aphantasia represents a rare and naturally occurring knock-out model for examining the role of visual imagery in episodic memory recall. Here, we assessed individuals with aphantasia on an adapted form of the Autobiographical Interview, a behavioural measure of the specificity and richness of episodic details underpinning the memory of events. Aphantasic participants generated significantly fewer episodic details than controls for both past and future events. This effect was most pronounced for novel future events, driven by selective reductions in visual detail retrieval, accompanied by comparatively reduced ratings of the phenomenological richness of simulated events, and paralleled by quantitative linguistic markers of reduced perceptual language use in aphantasic participants compared to those with visual imagery. Our findings represent the first systematic evidence (using combined objective and subjective data streams) that aphantasia is associated with a diminished ability to re-experience the past and simulate the future, indicating that visual imagery is an important cognitive tool for the dynamic retrieval and recombination of episodic details during mental simulation.

Keywords: AphantasiaVisual imageryMemoryImaginationEpisodic simulation

Rolf Degen summarizing... Around the age of 5 or 6, it dawns on children that others sometimes consider themselves better than they are, and it displeases them

The better to fool you with: Deception and self-deception. Jade Butterworth, Robert Trivers, William von Hippel. Current Opinion in Psychology, June 9 2022, 101385.

Abstract: Deception is used by plants, animals, and humans to increase their fitness by persuading others of false beliefs that benefit the self, thereby creating evolutionary pressure to detect deception and avoid providing such unearned benefits to others. Self-deception can disrupt detection efforts by eliminating cognitive load and idiosyncratic deceptive cues, raising the possibility that persuading others of a false belief might be more achievable after first persuading oneself. If people self-deceive in service of their persuasive goals, self-deception should emerge whenever persuasion is paramount and hence should be evident in information sharing, generalized beliefs about the self, and intergroup relations. The mechanism, costs, and benefits of self-deceptive biases are explored from this evolutionary perspective.