The role of mental imagery in Learning Difficulties

The role of mental imagery in poor literacy, numeracy, concentration….and how neglect of this vital skill develops into learning difficulties

Empowering Learning has developed a unique set of skills around mental imagery and learning.

What is mental imagery? Mental imagery is the pictures you create in your mind’s eye; the pictures you show yourself every minute of the day consciously or out of your conscious awareness.  How do you know what clothes to find in the wardrobe, which house/flat you live in?  How do you recognise your own kids? How do you become an excellent sportsman/woman?  It is all done through mental imagery. Some people will have glorious colour images others will just know the answer, either skill is just perfect for you. People with good mental pictures  will look up when they are accessing their pictures. Teachers are normally taught how to teach visually but not how children learn visually and the contribution the qualities of their mental images make to visual thinking and learning.

How do we do this?  We develop the Occipital Temporal Region of the brain to hold mental images of things we have seen and also to create new pictures – this is a key skill of creativity. At 6 weeks old (post full term delivery date) you may remember one of the developmental checks was “does your child smile when you look at them”.  How do they do that?  It is because they have a mental image of your face and if you put on a pink curly wig they will cry, because the image of you no longer matches the image they have in their occipital temporal region.  This region develops lots of visual skills, e.g. recognising faces, objects, houses, toys and then for some people to develop pictures of words and numbers. But for roughly 50% of the population they never naturally make this jump into words and numbers.  This happened to me and I started visualising numbers (I was wicked at mental arithmetic from an early age) and I literally never thought of visualising words.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, I just never thought of it.  Please note this isn’t just the shape of a word, that it a very limiting strategy, it is a proper image of the exact word, like a sign on a shop or a street name on a board.

Mail me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk if you want a copy of the full article that covers neural pathways for reading, the effects of stress,  rebuilding the visual pathways to work with phonological for a true multi-sensory experience and the vital qualities of mental imagery.

About olivehickmott

I am a Forensic Learning coach, showing people how they can improve their own learning and change their health. Working with creative neurodivergent students is a joy, as they learn new skills to overcome many of their learning challenges.
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