Aphantasia ielts reading passage with answers a life without mental images

Aphantasia IELTS Reading Passage with Answers

Aphantasia IELTS Reading Passage

Reading Passage 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1–13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.

Aphantasia: A life without mental images

Close your eyes and imagine walking along a sandy beach and then gazing over the horizon as the Sun rises. How clear is the image that springs to mind?

Most people can readily conjure images inside their head – known as their mind’s eye. But this year scientists have described a condition, aphantasia, in which some people are unable to visualise mental images.

Niel Kenmuir, from Lancaster, has always had a blind mind’s eye. He knew he was different even in childhood. “My stepfather, when I couldn’t sleep, told me to count sheep, and he explained what he meant, I tried to do it and I couldn’t,” he says. “I couldn’t see any sheep jumping over fences, there was nothing to count.”

Our memories are often tied up in images, think back to a wedding or first day at school. As a result, Niel admits, some aspects of his memory are “terrible”, but he is very good at remembering facts. And, like others with aphantasia, he struggles to recognise faces. Yet he does not see aphantasia as a disability, but simply a different way of experiencing life.

Mind’s eye blind

Ironically, Niel now works in a bookshop, although he largely sticks to the non-fiction aisles. His condition begs the question what is going on inside his picture-less mind. I asked him what happens when he tries to picture his fiancee. “This is the hardest thing to describe, what happens in my head when I think about things,” he says. “When I think about my fiancee there is no image, but I am definitely thinking about her, I know today she has her hair up at the back, she’s brunette. But I’m not describing an image I am looking at, I’m remembering features about her, that’s the strangest thing and maybe that is a source of some regret.”

The response from his mates is a very sympathetic: “You’re weird.” But while Niel is very relaxed about his inability to picture things, it is often a cause of distress for others. One person who took part in a study into aphantasia said he had started to feel “isolated” and “alone” after discovering that other people could see images in their heads. Being unable to reminisce about his mother years after her death led to him being “extremely distraught”.

The super-visualiser

At the other end of the spectrum is children’s book illustrator, Lauren Beard, whose work on the Fairytale Hairdresser series will be familiar to many six-year-olds. Her career relies on the vivid images that leap into her mind’s eye when she reads text from her author. When I met her in her box-room studio in Manchester, she was working on a dramatic scene in the next book. The text describes a baby perilously climbing onto a chandelier.

“Straightaway I can visualise this grand glass chandelier in some sort of French kind of ballroom, and the little baby just swinging off it and really heavy thick curtains,” she says. “I think I have a strong imagination, so I can create the world and then keep adding to it so it gets sort of bigger and bigger in my mind and the characters too they sort of evolve. I couldn’t really imagine what it’s like to not imagine, I think it must be a bit of a shame really.”

Not many people have mental imagery as vibrant as Lauren or as blank as Niel. They are the two extremes of visualisation. Adam Zeman, a professor of cognitive and behavioural neurology, wants to compare the lives and experiences of people with aphantasia and its polar-opposite hyperphantasia. His team, based at the University of Exeter, coined the term aphantasia this year in a study in the journal Cortex.

Prof Zeman tells the BBC: “People who have contacted us say they are really delighted that this has been recognised and has been given a name, because they have been trying to explain to people for years that there is this oddity that they find hard to convey to others.” How we imagine is clearly very subjective – one person’s vivid scene could be another’s grainy picture. But Prof Zeman is certain that aphantasia is real. People often report being able to dream in pictures, and there have been reported cases of people losing the ability to think in images after a brain injury.

He is adamant that aphantasia is “not a disorder” and says it may affect up to one in 50 people. But he adds: “I think it makes quite an important difference to their experience of life because many of us spend our lives with imagery hovering somewhere in the mind’s eye which we inspect from time to time, it’s a variability of human experience.”

Questions 1–5
Do the following statements agree with the information in the IELTS reading text?
In boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

1. Aphantasia is a condition, which describes people, for whom it is hard to visualise mental images.
2. Niel Kenmuir was unable to count sheep in his head.
3. People with aphantasia struggle to remember personal traits and clothes of different people.
4. Niel regrets that he cannot portray an image of his fiancee in his mind.
5. Inability to picture things in someone’s head is often a cause of distress for a person.
6. All people with aphantasia start to feel ‘isolated’ or ‘alone’ at some point of their lives.
7. Lauren Beard’s career depends on her imagination.
8. The author met Lauren Beard when she was working on a comedy scene in her next book.

Questions 9–13
Complete the sentences below.
Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet.

9. Only a small fraction of people have imagination as ___________ as Lauren does.
10. Hyperphantasia is ___________ to aphantasia.
11. There are a lot of subjectivity in comparing people’s imagination – somebody’s vivid scene could be another person’s___________.
12.
Prof Zeman is___________that aphantasia is not an illness.
13.
Many people spend their lives with___________somewhere in the mind’s eye.


Aphantasia IELTS Reading Answers

Reading Passage 1 Aphantasia

1.  False
2. True
3. Not Given
4. True
5. True
6. Not Given
7. True
8. False
9. Vibrant
10. Polar-opposite
11. Grainy picture
12. Adamant
13. Imagery hovering


Aphantasia IELTS Reading Answers with Explanation

Question: 1
Answer: False
Supporting Statement: But this year scientists have described a condition, aphantasia, in which some people are unable to visualise mental images.
Keyword:: Aphantasia, Unable
Keyword: Location: Section A, 2nd Line
Explanation: Aphantasia is a disease describing people who are incapable/cannot visualize mental images contrary to the meaning of the question statement that Aphantasia describes people who can visualize mental images but they find it hard to do so. Therefore, the statement is false.


Question: 2
Answer: True
Supporting Statement: Niel Kenmuir, from Lancaster, has always had a blind mind”s eye. he says. “I couldn”t see any sheep jumping over fences, there was nothing to count.”
Keyword:: Niel Kenmuir, Unable, Count Sheep
Keyword: Location: Section A, 2nd Paragraph, 4 line
Explanation: The lines mentioned in the passage clearly state the question statement. The question statement can be found using the Keyword:s. Therefore, the statement is true.


Question: 3
Answer: Not given
Explanation: The passage doesn”t describe people suffering from Aphantasia having trouble remembering personal traits and clothes. Therefore, the answer is not given.


Question: 4
Answer: True
Supporting Statement: But I”m not describing an image I am looking at, I”m remembering features about her, that”s the strangest thing and maybe that is a source of some regret.”
Keyword:: Fiancee, Regret,
Keyword: Location: Section B, 6 line
Explanation: When Neil was asked to picture his fiancee, he clearly states that he cannot picture his fiancee but remember some of her significant features. Therefore, this makes him feel regret as mentioned in the question statement and hence, the statement is true.


Question: 5
Answer: True
Supporting Statement: But while Niel is very relaxed about his inability to picture things, it is often a cause of distress for others.
Keyword:: Distress
Keyword: Location: Section B, 2 Paragraph
Explanation: It is clearly mentioned in the passage that Neil was relaxed about not being able to picture things, however, for others not being able to recollect and cherish memories often leads to the person feeling alone. Therefore, the question statement is true.


Question: 6
Answer: Not given
Explanation: The lines in the passage do state that not being able to recollect memories might be distress for others, however it never mentions that it happens to all the people suffering from Aphantasia. Also, the lines in the passage mentions “one person” not “all”. Therefore, the statement is out of the passage and hence not given.


Question: 7
Answer: True
Supporting Statement: Her career relies on the vivid images that leap into her mind”s eye when she reads text from her author.
Keyword:: Relies, Career, Imagination
Keyword: Location: Section C, 1st Paragraph, 3 line
Explanation: The word “relies” in the supporting statement represents the dependency of Lauren Beard”s career on her imagination. Imagination is not present directly in the statement, however the line “vivid images that leap into her mind”s eye” is nothing but an exaggerated synonym of her imagination . Therefore, the question statement is true.


Question: 8
Answer: False
Supporting Statement: When I met her in her box-room studio in Manchester, she was working on a dramatic scene in the next book.
Keyword:: Comedy, Next Book
Keyword: Location: Section C, 5 Line
Explanation: The lines in the passage state that the author met Lauren Beard when she was working on a dramatic scene contrary to the comedy scene in the question statement. Therefore, the question statement is false.


Question: 9
Answer: Vibrant
Supporting Statement: Not many people have mental imagery as vibrant as Lauren or as blank as Niel.
Keyword:: As Vibrant as Lauren
Keyword: Location: Section C, 3 Paragraph, 1st Line
Explanation: The lines in the passage clearly states that the author portrayed Lauren”s imagination as vibrant and Neil”s imagination as blank. Moreover, “not many people” means “a small fraction of people”. Therefore, the correct answer is Vibrant.


Question: 10
Answer: Polar- opposite
Supporting Statement: Adam Zeman, a professor of cognitive and behavioural neurology, wants to compare the lives and experiences of people with aphantasia and its polar-opposite hyperphantasia.
Keyword:: Aphantasia, Hyperphantasia
Keyword: Location: Section C, 3 Paragraph, 4th Line IELTSXpress
Explanation: The lines in the passage clearly states that Adam Zeman compared aphantasia and its polar-opposite hyperphantasia.


Question: 11
Answer: Grainy Picture
Supporting Statement: How we imagine is clearly very subjective – one person”s vivid scene could be another”s grainy picture.
Keyword:: Imagination, Vivid Scene, Another”s Person, Grainy Picture
Keyword: Location: Section C, 4 Paragraph, 4th Line
Explanation: The lines in the passage “one person”s vivid scene could be another”s grainy picture” is simply comparing one”s imagination with a grainy picture as mentioned in the question statement. Therefore, Grainy Picture is the correct answer.


Question: 12
Answer: Adamant
Supporting Statement: He is adamant that aphantasia is “not a disorder” and says it may affect up to one in 50 people.
Keyword:: Aphantasia, Adamant
Keyword: Location: Section C, 5 Paragraph, 1st Line
Explanation: The lines in the passage clearly mentions that Professor Zeman was adamant in not calling aphantasia a disorder because it affected only one in 50 people. The question statement can be easily found in the passage using the Keyword:s. Therefore, the correct word is adamant. ieltsxpress


Question: 13
Answer: Imagery Hovering
Supporting Statement: But he adds: “I think it makes quite an important difference to their experience of life because many of us spend our lives with imagery hovering somewhere in the mind”s eye…”
Keyword:: Spend tier lives, Mind”s eye
Keyword: Location: Section C, 5 Paragraph, 3rd Line
Explanation: The lines in the question statement are the same as given in the passage. Therefore using the Keyword:s, we can find the answer as Imagery Hovering.


Also Check: IELTS Academic Reading Test 15 | Pearl Deserts Hurricanes

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