Visual Memory & Auditory Memory
July 14, 2014 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I was curious as to how many visual thinkers there out there? If there are any who are willing to share their information on this post, I am curious as to whether you have always been a visual thinker or whether this was something you developed? Visual thinking seems to be one of the better ways to process information.

The funny thing is that I don't really think in this style much, so it is hard for me to use memory strategies that rely on visual thinking patterns. I have been reading Moonwalking with Einstein, and it seems that if you are a visual thinker, you have a lot of potential in many areas of study not just memory. If anyone is willing to share whether they had another predominate way of processing information and then learned to develop visual thinking strategies, I would love to hear about your experiences. For someone who doesn't learn in this manner, can this be developed? If so does anyone know about any good books that emphasize a new way of taking in information? If not, do you just accept that the way you learn is the way you learn?
posted by nidora to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I was pretty balanced visual/auditory. Now, I do better with visual input. Part of it was losing some hearing in my dominant ear and part of it is attention/concentration problems from depression and fibromyalgia.

I've had to move to reading more and listening less. I started shifting this way in grad school after surgery on my ear. It made lectures lots of fun unless there were slides to follow along with.

I think it just came with practice for me. I wasn't a horrible visual learner or anything, but I relied on both seeing and hearing.
posted by kathrynm at 12:28 PM on July 14, 2014

Although people certainly think differently and have different intellectual strengths, there is no evidence that people have different "learning styles."

Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence: "We conclude therefore, that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning-styles assessments into general educational practice."

Student "Learning Styles" Theory Is Bunk "According to the theory, if we know what sort of a learner a child is, we can optimize his or her learning by presenting material the way that they like. The prediction is straightforward: Kids learn better when they are taught in a way that matches their learning style than when they are taught in a way that doesn’t. That’s a straightforward prediction. The data are straightforward too: It doesn’t work."

Learning Styles FAQ

Howard Gardner: ‘Multiple intelligences’ are not ‘learning styles’

Advice about the Use of Learning Styles: A Major Myth in Education

Think You're An Auditory Or Visual Learner? Scientists Say It's Unlikely

The Myth of Learning Styles Infographic
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:43 PM on July 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for the links. While I agree that people might not have a particular learning style, how do you explain the fact that some people can remember things so clearly versus others who cannot? I find it hard to believe that this can just be explained by IQ?
posted by nidora at 1:05 PM on July 14, 2014

I don't think you have to go into "learning styles" to talk about differing ability in auditory and visual recall and processing. You might find it helpful to read about the Wechsler Memory Scale, a diagnostic instrument which includes different tests for spatial and verbal aptitude.

Anecdotally, I took the WMS a few years ago as part of an autism diagnosis; the clinician administering the test commented that it was very common for Autistics to have superior visual recall, even those of us who have the hyperlexic variant.
posted by dorque at 2:20 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

While I agree that people might not have a particular learning style, how do you explain the fact that some people can remember things so clearly versus others who cannot?

The first link from Mr. K-i-s doesn't actually argue that learning styles don't exist, just that tailoring a class to suit a student's learning style (as opposed to tailoring it to the content or context of the class) doesn't seem to make a difference to learning outcomes:
Our review of the literature disclosed ample evidence that children and adults will, if asked, express preferences about how they prefer information to be presented to them. There is also plentiful evidence arguing that people differ in the degree to which they have some fairly specific aptitudes for different kinds of thinking and for processing different types of information.
To put it another way, some people may be better 'auditory learners,' but in an art appreciation class they would not benefit from having the Mona Lisa described to them instead of looking at the painting itself.
posted by Paragon at 5:09 PM on July 14, 2014

FWIW, I have a visual memory - not fully eidetic, but when I recall things it's in high detail because I can close my eyes and see just about everything. It can be a very entertaining party trick. For instance, I was just at my (erp) 30th high school reunion and in talking to people, I could pull out 30+ year old memories in fine-grain detail.

Names on the other hand - fuck that shit. Names, I think, have very little concrete meaning and as a result they fall right out of my head, although my name cache gets decidedly better if I have a reasonable amount of sleep (which my kids have pretty much guaranteed won't ever happen again).
posted by plinth at 6:03 PM on July 14, 2014

I am NOT a terribly visual thinker, but I've gotten interested in learning to draw over the years, and the things I've drawn stay with me in a way that other images do not. I love walking around the city and looking at architectural details, and I take hundreds of photos of those details - but the one little deco ornament I drew for sketching practice five years ago stays in my head way more than anything I glanced at this week.

I would encourage you to try a little experiment with yourself: do a little bit of drawing several days a week for a few months. Draw lots of things: faces, buildings, and especially diagrams of anything you're learning.

At the end of a few months, see if you notice any difference in your ability to remember things visually. I bet you will.
posted by kristi at 8:28 AM on July 17, 2014

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