The Mind's Eye
Series of soundscapes exploring how people's personal experiences influence their mind's eye, with contributions from an architect, a schoolboy, a DJ and an artist.
You can never see through someone else's eyes, but can we, by stealth, tap into people's visual imaginations?
The mind's eye is something most of us take for granted - the 'secret cinema' inside our mind, turning sounds into shapes, characters into faces - it sometimes seems like a sixth sense. For those who have it.
Constantly viewing our own personal visuals, we are powerless to control it, and no one else can see it but us.
"A man hitting his head with a bible" or "A tree being chopped down"?
"A row of frogs" or "The bulging eyes of Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange"
Using a series of soundscapes, we hear the visual musings of a range of people: an architect, a school boy, a DJ, an artist amongst them - playing with the way people's own personal experiences influence their mental pictures.
But what about those who have no pictures in their brain?
"In my late 20's I was on a management course doing a relaxation exercise, and they asked us to imagine dawn. And I thought dawn? Well I know it's pink. But I couldn't see it, I couldn't imagine it."
Gill Morgan, doctor
First recognised, but not named in 1880 by Francis Galton, aphantasia, as Professor of Cognitive and Behavioural Neurology Adam Zeman has recently called it, is being explored by neuroscientists around the world. It may affect 2% of the population, and studies have shown that there is a sliding scale of non-imagers.
Some barely notice any difference in their relationship with their own personal history, but for others this may include an inability to recall life events.
"From talking to close friends it became obvious to me that 'the mind's eye' was not a figure of speech, phrases like, 'it takes you back' exist because that's what they do".
Nick Watkins, theoretical physicist
Encouraging Radio 3 listeners to become aware of their own 'secret cinema', 'Between The Ears' trepans into the little grey cells that bring imagination to light - giving a glimpse inside the film-reel unspooling in our brains.
Contributors: Professor Adam Zeman, Doctor Nick Watkins, Dame Gill Morgan, Michael Bywater
The voices of Susan Aldworth, Francesca Vinti, Luca Goodfellow, Emma Kilbey, Ford Hickson, Ian Goodfellow, Danny Webb and readings by John Dougall and Dilly Barlow.
Soundscapes featuring Alexander Frater in Goa in the monsoon
Artwork by kind permission of artist Susan Aldworth. Music sourced by Danny Webb.
Producer: Sara Jane Hall.