We know some people can’t conjure up mental images. But we’re only beginning to understand the impact this “aphantasia” might have on their education
Never underestimate the power of visualisation. It may sound like a self-help mantra, but a growing body of evidence shows that mental imagery can accelerate learning and improve performance of all sorts of skills. For athletes and musicians, “going through the motions,” or mentally rehearsing the movements in the mind, is just as effective as physical training, and motor imagery can also help stroke patients regain function of their paralysed limbs.
For most of us, visual imagery is essential for memory, daydreaming and imagination. But some people apparently lack a mind’s eye altogether, and find it impossible to conjure up such visual images – and their inability to do so may affect their ability to learn and their educational performance.
In the classroom, mental imagery seems to be especially important for reading comprehension and learning word meanings, and, according to at least to one theory, is a cornerstone for literacy.
Dual-coding theory, put forward by Allan Paivio of the University of Western Ontario in 1971, distinguishes between verbal and non-verbal thought processes, and places mental imagery as the primary form of non-verbal representation. Thus, information is stored in two different ways – verbally and visually – and although these two codes are independent of one another, and can each be used alone, they can also interact to enhance learning and recall.
...students who are asked to create mental images during word memory tasks learn two and a half times as much as those who are told merely to repeat the words they need to remember. Verbal recall and visual images do appear to be separate but related, and while the ability to use imagery is not directly related to measures of intelligence, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, the spontaneous use of imagery helps children to learn and understand prose.
More recently, other studies have shown that mental imagery can help students grasp abstract concepts, and that encouraging students to use imagery can improve their understanding of such concepts.
| #aphantasia #learn #learning #education #mindseye #imagine #imagination #imagery #memory #visualisation #brain