Visual thinking is the process of learning through nonverbal ways, such as visual processing. Individuals who learn best through visual thinking have a tendency to use those areas of the brain common in emotion and creativity. They tend to see things in terms of pictures, and visual thinking is thought to be common for people with dyslexia or autism.
Visual thinking is an important concept for educators to embrace. According to the Visual Thinkers Organization, the following should be taken into consideration:
- Visual thinkers organize and analyze information in a different way
- Visual thinkers acquire information through pictures
- Clarity comes through illustrations verses words in visual thinking
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Visual Thinking and Nonverbal Thought
There are several forms of nonverbal thought, such as mathematical or kinesthetic. Visual thinking is believed to occur in more than half of the human population, and allows individuals to "see" spatial orientation, such as chess moves or navigation.
Individuals with autism frequently think in pictures. Dr. Temple Grandin, for example, has described her own thinking in this way and refers to words as a second language. Language is translated into imagery in her mind, which she equates to watching a full-color movie inside her head. Visual thinking is one of the main reasons that individuals with autism excel at spatial skills and do poorly with verbal reasoning.
Learning Concepts and Visual Thinking
All individuals possess some form of visual thinking. This is why things such as charts and graphs help reinforce learning concepts. Frequently, the association of an image with a concept is a more powerful memory tool than verbal or text descriptions. Advanced visual thinkers are said to have photographic memories, also known as eidetic memory.