a crop from a charcoal drawing with hands over a woman's eyes, a chalkboard with key words and a nude in fetal position

Extreme Imagination

Extreme Imagination Conference

The conference, which took place between 5 and 7 April 2019, was a result of research by the Eye’s Mind team, including by Professor Adam Zeman (Neurology, University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health), Professor Fiona Macpherson (Philosophy, University of Glasgow), Dr Crawford Winlove (Neuroscience, University of Exeter), Professor John Onians (Art History, University of East Anglia), and Dr Matthew MacKisack (Cultural History, University of Exeter).

The conference was one of the many public responses by the Eye's Mind team, recognising the need for people to connect and share knowledge and information about a subject that clearly resonates strongly with many people. Over the course of the conference, participants heard from the Eye's Mind project leaders about the current research pertaining to Aphantasia and Hyperphantasia across disciplines of Neurology, Psychology, Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Art and Culture.

The participants also took part in a range of workshops and break out groups to learn and share, contributing and sharing their own experiences with both researchers and each other.

Watch the lectures and browse photos from the conference below.

photo of an auditorium with adult audience in seating in front of a projector screen in a lit conference room, viewed from above

slide with feedback text quote It opened up my world. Everything began to make sense. I could finally  understand why I struggled with certain things and it gave me the  confidence to explore how I actually interacted with the world. Conference participant

slide with quote I feel I have a much deeper and clearer understanding of the diversity of the conditions in different people. I had previously made assumptions because of my experiences with aphantasia others would have had these too, but often I have learned this is not the case. We are all unique although some experiences we definitely shared. I now see it as a spectrum. Conference participant

photo of teaching setting: a colourful room with an older audience gathered around white tables

slide with feedback text quote This conference gave me significant insights into my own functioning. Conference participant

photo of teaching setting: a middle-aged white man in shirt gesticulating while teaching an older audience

slide with feedback text quote These [talks and exhibition] together give an explanation, and so many of the lectures have linked up with each other, begin to build an explanation of what it is about aphantasia that makes you different from other people. Conference participant

photo of a person with long hair and a beanie hat speaking in front of an audience in an auditorium, in front of a projector screen

slide with feedback text quote Finally, I’ve met somebody who can do one of the things I can do... I had to give her a high-five when I found out, and she was quite excited about it too! So, we’re not alone, which is wonderful. I never found anybody in my life that could do this, that can go as far as I can, and now I have.  Conference participant

slide with feedback text quote The discussion groups were very interesting, really good because it was a  variety of people... I think I felt I had a lot in common with [them] and [they  were] also very interesting to me because [they are] different, but also we  have a common themes I think when we were discussing. Conference participant

Professor Adam Zeman - Phantasia: the psychological significance of visual imagery extremes

Professor Fiona Macpherson – 'What is it Like to Have Visual Imagery?'

Professor Joel Pearson - 'The cognitive neuroscience of mental imagery'

Professor Emily Holmes - 'Mental Imagery and Emotion: Psychology from lab to clinic'

Dr Crawford Winlove – 'The Neural Basis of Visual Imagery'

Professor John Onians - 'Neural Deficits as Assets: Life as a Colour-Blind Art Historian'

Extreme Imagination Artists Panel

Q&A session with the Extreme Imagination speakers

Extreme Imagination 2019 - Closing remarks and next steps