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Encyclopedia > Visual thinking

Picture thinking, visual thinking or visual/spatial learning is the common phenomenon of thinking through visual processing. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to visualize spatial patterns and mentally manipulate them over a time-ordered sequence of spatial transformations. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Spatial-temporal reasoning. ...

Since its origins in the 1950s, cognitive science has assumed that the mind's native representational format is something like symbolic logic, a point of view argued by the later Wittgenstein, by Noam Chomsky, and more recently by the linguistic philosopher John Searle. Thinking in pictures, along with other recognized forms of non-verbal thought such as kinesthetic, musical and mathematical thinking[1], don't fit this "linguistic turn" that dominated the development in philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century. Whereas multiple thinking and learning styles are a common part of many current teacher training courses, lay discussions on the topic of non-verbal forms of thinking are still dominated by intuitions. This aside, the issue of non-verbal modes of thought still pose challenges to some core assumptions within current cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics. Cognitive science is usually defined as the scientific study either of mind or of intelligence (e. ... Mathematical logic is a discipline within mathematics, studying formal systems in relation to the way they encode intuitive concepts of proof and computation as part of the foundations of mathematics. ... Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), pictured here in 1930, made influential contributions to Logic and the philosophy of language, critically examining the task of conventional philosophy and its relation to the nature of language. ... Avram Noam Chomsky (Hebrew :אברם נועם חומסקי Yiddish: אברם נועם כאמסקי) , Ph. ... John Rogers Searle (born July 31, 1932 in Denver, Colorado) is the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and is noted for contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and consciousness, on the characteristics of socially constructed versus physical realities, and on practical reason. ... Note: this article originated from a translation from the German Wikipedias [entry] on the same topic. ... Cognitive science is usually defined as the scientific study either of mind or of intelligence (e. ... Psychology (from Greek: ψυχή, psukhÄ“, spirit, soul; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is both an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. ... Linguistics is the scientific study of language, which can be theoretical or applied. ...

Visual thinking has been reported to be the most commonly thinking style accounting for around 60%-65% of the general population[2][3][4]. While visual thinking and visual learners are not synonymous, those who think in pictures have generally claimed to be best at visual learning just as kinesthetic (physical) thinkers have claimed to learn best via hands-on learning tasks. Also, while preferred learning and thinking styles may differ from person to person, precluding perceptual or neurological damage or deficits diminishing the use of some types of thinking, people (visual thinkers included) will usually employ some range of diverse thinking and learning styles[5][6] whether they are conscious of the differences or not.


Visual thinking and pop psychology

Visual thinking is only one of five recognized learning styles, including visual, logical, verbal, physical (kinesthetic) and aural (musical)[7]. Visual thinking is one of the three most common learning styles, the others being linguistic or verbal processing (thinking in words, common to around 20%-30% of the population) and, finally, physical (kinesthetic, which is learning through doing and movement, common to around 10%-15% of the population) thinking[8][9]. The term natural language is used to distinguish languages spoken and signed (by hand signals and facial expressions) by humans for general-purpose communication from constructs such as writing, computer-programming languages or the languages used in the study of formal logic, especially mathematical logic. ...

Much of the thinking of children in the preoperational stage (2-7 years of age) is pre-linguistic which may include visual thinking but also physical (kinesthetic), aural (musical) or logical (mathematical/systems) thinking. The Preoperational stage is the second of four stages of cognitive development theorized in Piagets theory. ...

Fallacies about visual thinkers

Visual Thinking and 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. Eidetic Memory can still occur in those with visual agnosia (meaning blindness) who, unlike visual thinkers, may be limited in the use visualization skills for mental reasoning. As such, photographic memory has no necessary relationship to visual thinking. Eidetic memory, photographic memory, or total recall, is the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory with extreme accuracy and in seemingly abundant volume. ... Photographic memory or eidetic memory is the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory with great accuracy and in seemingly unlimited volume. ...

Visual Thinking, Left Handedness and Brain Hemisphere Specialization As one of the three most common modes of thinking, visual thinking occurs in both left and right handed people. Given that left handed people account for around 8-15% of the population[10] and that visual thinking is one of the most common modes of thinking for around 60%-65% of the population (60-65 in every 100 people) [11], it is fallacy to link it to specific brain hemisphere dominance and will occur in those with either left or right brain dominance.

Visual Thinking and Dyslexia As dyslexia is believed to effect between 2 and 30% percent of the population[12] and Visual thinking is predominant in around 60%-65% of the population[13] there is no clear indication of a necessary link between visual thinking and dyslexia. As visual thinking is the most common mode of thought, it might be expected that the incidence of visual thinking in the dyslexic community may be reflective of that in the general population, around 60%-65% of each population. This is not the same as saying that visual thinking and dyslexia have any necessarily exclusive relationship with each other.

Visual Thinking and Autism Visual thinking has been argued by Temple Grandin[14] as a basis for delayed speech in people with autism. However, 'picture thinking' is only one form of "non-linguistic thinking", the others including physical (kinesthetic), aural (musical) and logical (mathematical/systems) style of thought. Among those whose main form of thought and learning style is a non-linguistic form, visual thinking is the most common, though most people have a combination of thought and learning styles. While it has been suggested that visual thinking has some necessary connection with autism, given that around 1 person in 150 has autism and that up to 60%-65% of the population think in pictures[15] it cannot be concluded that visual thinking has any necessary connection with being autistic, although clearly many people with autism, just as many non-autistic people, will think in pictures. As visual thinking is the most common mode of thought, it might be expected that the incidence of visual thinking in the autistic community may be reflective of that in the general population, around 60%-65% of each population. This is not the same as saying that visual thinking and autism have any necessarily exclusive relationship with each other. Dr. Temple Grandin, one of the more successful adults with autism. ...

Visual Thinking and Spatial-Temporal Reasoning or Spatial Visualization ability Visual thinkers describe thinking in pictures. As approximately 60%-65% of the general population[16], its possible that a visual thinker may be as likely as any human being to also have good spatial-temporal reasoning or visual spatial ability without the two having any necessary direct relationship. Acute spatial ability is one of the traits of kinesthetic learners (those who learn through movement, physical patterning and doing) and logical thinkers (mathematical thinkers who think in patterns and systems)[17] who may not be strong visual thinkers at all. Similarly, visual thinking has been described as seeing words as a series of pictures which, alone, is quite unlike spatial-temporal reasoning.

Dimensions of picture thinkers

Traits that most picture thinkers share are:

  • Thinking with the meaning of language in terms of multidimensional scenarios of the ideas and concepts, as opposed to the sound of language.
  • Natural ability to 'quick read' whole sentences instead of word for word, but when asked to read out loud what they have read they often use other words than what is actually written.

Characteristics of visual thinking

Who and what a picture thinker is or does is still debated. Given that unless there is specific brain damage to areas or senses associated with other types of processing, people will have a range of thinking styles even though they may use one more predominantly than others it would be expected that accounts of picture thinking will differ from person to person depending which other modes of thought and learning style are also implicated.

Picture thinkers can come to conclusions in an intuitive way, without reasoning with language. Instead, they manipulate with visual symbols to form answers to problems.

As one of the two most common modes of thought and learning styles, visual thinkers are to be found in all walks of life but may be over represented in occupations requiring good visualization skills. This should not be confused with logical thinkers who think mathematically and in systems but may not do so pictorially.


Around 60%-65% of people report being predominantly visual thinkers[18]

See also

Part of the Soft systems methodology, Rich Pictures provide a mechanism for learning through understanding. ... When you create an image to communicate an idea, you are using visual language. ... New Epoch Art Notation is a conceptual writing system for pure visual images. ... Twilight language is a rendering of the Sanskrit term and may also refer to: The Twilight Language:Explorations in Buddhist Meditation and Symbolism, a 1986 book by Roderick Bucknell and Martin Stuart-Fox; A conspiracy theory proposed by James Shelby Downard and embraced by Michael A. Hoffman II; Twilight Language... Image schema is a recurring structure of, or within, our cognitive processes, which establishes patterns of understanding and reasoning. ... Concept mapping is a technique for visualizing the relationships between different concepts. ...


External links

  • [1] Stats on incidence of major learning styles.
  • [2] An overview of the 5 major learning styles
  • [3] Visual thinking as one of the three most common learning styles.
  • [4] Resources for the visual/right brained learner.



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