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Visual thinking

Visual thinking
Not to be confused with Spatial visualization ability.
Visual thinking, also called visual/spatial learning, picture thinking, or right brained learning, is the
phenomenon of thinking through visual processing.
Visual thinking has been described as seeing words as a series of pictures.Wikipedia:Citation needed It is common in
approximately 60%65% of the general population.
"Real picture thinkers", those persons who use visual thinking almost to the exclusion of other kinds of thinking,
make up a smaller percentage of the population. Research by child development theorist Linda Kreger Silverman
suggests that less than 30% of the population strongly uses visual/spatial thinking, another 45% uses both
visual/spatial thinking and thinking in the form of words, and 25% thinks exclusively in words. According to Kreger
Silverman, of the 30% of the general population who use visual/spatial thinking, only a small percentage would use
this style over and above all other forms of thinking, and can be said to be 'true' "picture thinkers".
Research and theoretical background
The Dutch nonprofit organization the "Maria J. Krabbe Stichting Beelddenken" conducts research on "beelddenken".
The "Maria J. Krabbe Stichting" has developed a test, named the "Ojemann wereldspel", to identify children who
rely primarily on visual-spatial thinking. In this test, children are asked to build a village with toy houses and then
replicate it a few days later.Wikipedia:Citation needed
In the Netherlands there is a strong and growing interest in the phenomenon of 'true' "picture thinking", or
"beelddenken".Wikipedia:Citation needed As a result of increased media coverage during the last few years, there is
an acceptance of its existence by the general public,Wikipedia:Citation needed despite criticism from Dutch
psychologists and development theorists, principally N. van Woerden and R. Wiers.Wikipedia:Citation needed
Several websites and foundations are dedicated to "beelddenken".
Non-verbal thought
See also: Cognitive psychology, Cognitive science and Nonverbal communication
Thinking in mental images is one of a number of other recognized forms of non-verbal thought, such as kinesthetic,
musical and mathematical thinking.
Main article: Linguistics
A common assumption is that people think in language, and that language and thought influence each
other.Wikipedia:Citation needed Linguistics studies how language is used and acquired.
The strong version of the SapirWhorf hypothesis in linguistics states that language determines thought, and that
linguistic categories alone limit and determine cognitive categories. Although Whorf himself framed linguistic
relativity in terms of "habits of mind" rather than determinism, the revolutionary nature of his hypothesis was met
with much misinterpretation and criticism. In 1969, Brent Berlin and Paul Kay rejected the strong hypothesis using a
color terminology study.
Steven Pinker notes that we are not born with language, so that it is not likely that we are engineered to think in
words alone.
Visual thinking
Multiple intelligences
Main article: Theory of multiple intelligences
Gardner's multiple intelligences theory recognises various forms of intelligence, namely spatial, linguistic,
logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic.Wikipedia:Citation
needed Areas of competence may be reinforcing, but also mutually exclusive. In today's society the link between IQ
and education has weakened, but the idea of educated and intelligent has become synonymous, interchangeable;
reinforced by verbalizers being better able to internalize information, advocate systems and design jobs that
monetarily reward strengths, a cycle that is self-perpetuating.Wikipedia:Citation needed
Split-brain research
Main article: Split-brain
According to Roger Sperry the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere perform different tasks. The left and right
hemisphere may be simultaneously conscious in different, even mutually conflicting, mental experiences that run in
parallel. The right [non-verbal] hemisphere perceives, thinks, remembers, reasons, wills and emotes, all at a
characteristically human level.Wikipedia:Citation needed
Research which builds on Sperry's split brain research is reinforced by anecdotal evidence, which supports the
premise that different architectures lend themselves to one of the channels, at the expense of the
others.Wikipedia:Citation needed
Spatial-temporal reasoning and spatial visualization ability
Main articles: Spatialtemporal reasoning and Spatial visualization ability
Spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to visualize special patterns and mentally manipulate them over a
time-ordered sequence of spatial transformations.
Spatial visualization ability is the ability to manipulate mentally
two- and three-dimensional figures.
Spatial-temporal reasoning is prominent among visual thinkers as well as among kinesthetic learners (those who
learn through movement, physical patterning and doing) and logical thinkers (mathematical thinkers who think in
patterns and systems) who may not be strong visual thinkers at all.
Photographic memory
Main article: Eidetic memory
Eidetic memory (photographic memory) may co-occur in visual thinkers as much as in any type of thinking style as
it is a memory function associated with having vision rather than a thinking style.Wikipedia:Citation needed Eidetic
memory can still occur in those with visual agnosia, who, unlike visual thinkers, may be limited in the use of
visualization skills for mental reasoning.Wikipedia:Citation needed
Psychologist E.R Jaensch states that eidetic memory apart of visual thinking has to do with eidetic images fading
between the line of the after image and the memory image.Wikipedia:Citation needed A fine relationship may exist
between the after image and the memory image, which causes visual thinkers from not seeing the eidetic image but
rather drawing upon perception and useful information.Wikipedia:Citation needed Individuals diagnosed with
agnosia, may not be able to perform mental reasoning.Wikipedia:Citation needed
Visual thinking
Learning styles
Main article: Learning styles
The acknowledgement and application of different cognitive and learning styles, including visual, kinesthetic,
musical, mathematical and verbal thinking styles, are a common part of many current teacher training
courses.Wikipedia:Citation needed Those who think in pictures have generally claimed to be best at visual
learning.Wikipedia:Citation needed
Empirical research shows that there is no evidence that identifying a student's "learning style" produces better
outcomes. There is significant evidence that the widespread "meshing hypothesis", the assumption that a student will
learn best if taught in a method deemed appropriate for the student's learning style is invalid.
studies "flatly contradict the popular meshing hypothesis".
Concurrency with Dyslexia and Autism
Main article: Dyslexia
Research suggests that dyslexia is a symptom of a predominant visual/spatial learning.
Morgan used the term
'word blindness,' in 1896. Hinselwood expanded on 'word blindness' to describe the reversing of letters and similar
phenomenon in 1900s. Orton suggested that individuals have difficulty associating the visual with the verbal form of
words, in 1925.Wikipedia:Citation needed Further studies, using technologies (PET and MRI), and wider and varied
user groups in various languages. support the earlier findings.Wikipedia:Citation needed Visual-spatial symptoms
(dyslexia, Developmental coordination disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and the like) arise in
non-visual and non-spatial environments and situations; hence, visual/spatial learning is aggravated by an education
system based upon information presented in written text instead of presented via multimedia and hands-on
See also: Autism and Nonverbal learning disorder
Visual thinking has been argued by Temple Grandin to be an origin for delayed speech in people with autism.
has been suggested that visual thinking has some necessary connection with autism.Wikipedia:Citation needed
Functional imaging studies on people with autism have been given support to the hypothesis that they have a
cognitive style that favors the use of visuospatial coding strategies.
Art and design education
Concepts related to visual thinking have played an important role in art and design education over the past several
decades, but this has not always been the case.
In Ancient Greece, Plato tended to place an emphasis on music to
aid cognition in the education of heroes because of its mathematical tendencies and "harmonies of the cosmos". On
the other hand, visual images, paintings in particular, caused the reliances on "illusionary images" However, in the
Western world, children begin primary school with abstract thought and shapes, but as we grow older, according to
Rudolph Arnheim, "arts are reduced to a desirable supplement" The general world trend in the late twentieth century
caused an emphases towards scientific, mathematical, and quantitative approach to education, and art education is
often refuted because it is based on perception. It is qualitative and subjective which makes it difficult to measure
and evaluate.
However, fundamentals in visual thinking lay the ground work for many design disciplines such as art and
architecture. Two of the most influential aspects of visual composition in these disciplines are patterns and color.
Patterns are not only prevalent in many different aspects of every day life, but it is also telling about our
Visual thinking
interpretation of the world. In addition, there are now studied approaches to how color should be used in design
where "the functional aesthetics of colour can be reduced to a small number of guidelines and lists the main
properties needed to make design decisions leading to visual clarity".
At the same time, techniques in art and design can open up pathways to stimulate the thought process. Sketches offer
an unrestrained way to get thoughts down on paper through the "abstract representations of ideas and idea
structures". It is also an effective means of communication, especially for architects, for translating ideas from
designer to client. Despite all the advantages of integrating art and visuals into education, it is a difficult skill to
master. Those who can are well versed in visual analysis. It takes a lot of practice to have sketches evolve from
"meaningless scribbles" to a complex "thinking tool".
[1] [1] Deza 2009, p.526.
[2] [2] Silverman 2005.
[3] Startpagina "beelddenken" (http:/ / beelddenken.startpagina. nl/ )
[4] Stichting belddenken (http:/ / www. stichtingbeelddenken. nl/ )
[5] [5] Berlin 1969.
[6] Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct
[7] [7] Pashler 2008.
[8] [8] Felder 2007.
[9] [9] Morgan (1896), Hinselwood (1900), Orton (1925)
[10] THINKING IN PICTURES: Autism and Visual Thought (http:/ / www. grandin. com/ inc/ visual. thinking. html)
[11] Wisconsins Model Academic Standards for Art and Design Education (http:/ / www. dpi. state. wi. us/ standards/ pdf/ art& design. pdf)
Berlin, Brent; Kay, Paul (1969), Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution, University of California
Press, ISBN1-57586-162-3
Michel Deza & Elena Deza (2009), Encyclopedia of Distances, Springer
Felder, Richard M. (2007), ARE LEARNING STYLES INVALID? (HINT: NO!) (http:/ / www4. ncsu. edu/ unity/
lockers/ users/ f/ felder/ public/ Papers/ LS_Validity(On-Course). pdf)
Pashler, H.; McDaniel, M.; Rohrer, D.; Bjork, R. (2008). "Learning styles: Concepts and evidence".
Psychological Science in the Public Interest 9: 105119. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6053.2009.01038.x (http:/ / dx. doi.
org/ 10. 1111/ j. 1539-6053. 2009. 01038. x).
Silverman, Linda Kreger (2005), Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner (http:/ / www.
beelddenken.info/ documenten/ upside-down_brilliance. pdf), Maria J. Krabbe Foundation for Visual Thinking
Further reading
Rudolf Arnheim (1969), Visual Thinking
Robert McKim (1971), Experiences in Visual Thinking
Betty Edwards (1979), Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Thomas G. West (1997), The Minds Eye
Linda Silverman (2002), Upside Down Brilliance
Silverman, Linda Kreger (2005), Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner (http:/ / www.
beelddenken.info/ documenten/ upside-down_brilliance. pdf), Maria J. Krabbe Foundation for Visual Thinking
Win Wenger (2004), The Einstein Factor
Visual thinking
External links
Visualspatial.org (http:/ / www. visualspatial. org)
Neural bases of exogenous versus endogenous visual spatial attention (http:/ / www. forschung-sachsen-anhalt.
de/ index. php3?option=projektanzeige& pid=6017& lang=& perform=) (German)
LE VISUO-SPATIAL (http:/ / www. happyneuron. fr/ aspx/ public/ doc/ saga/ mainvisuo. aspx) (French)
(MIT) Do Humanities and Science Faculty Differ in Verbal & Visuospatial Working Memory Processes? (http:/ /
cognet. mit. edu/ library/ conferences/ paper?paper_id=3131)
howard gardner, multiple intelligences and education (http:/ / www. infed. org/ thinkers/ gardner. htm)
maria krabbe foundation (http:/ / www. euronet. nl/ ~mjkbeeld/ ) (Dutch)
New forum for picture thinking (http:/ / beelddenkers. clubs. nl/ forum/ algemeen) (mostly Dutch visitors)
Just different (http:/ / www. gewoonanders. eu/ index_groot. html) (Dutch)
Yahoo group beelddenken (http:/ / groups. yahoo. com/ group/ beelddenken/ )
Article Sources and Contributors
Article Sources and Contributors
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