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The phenomenon was first described by Francis Galton in 1880, but has remained relatively unstudied. Interest in the phenomenon renewed after the publication of a study in 2015 conducted by a team led by Professor Adam Zeman of the University of Exeter. Zeman's team coined the term aphantasia, derived from the ancient Greek word phantasia (φαντασία), which means "imagination", and the prefix a- (ἀ-), which means "without".
Research on the condition is still scarce. Some research has investigated subtypes of aphantasia. One subtype is spatial aphantasia, the inability to create mental imagery in the visuo-spatial aspect. Another is object aphantasia, the inability to create mental images of single items or events.
Aphantasia is considered the opposite of hyperphantasia, the condition of having extremely vivid mental imagery.
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