Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Different Worlds of Words and Pictures

These low tech tasks remind us a little of the old playground challenge of trying to pat your head with one hand and rub your tummy with the other...but they underscore the existence of separate verbal and visual processing modes, and differential effects of interfering outside tasks.

This kind of research work doesn't seem very high tech, but it does have practical implications for student activites involving multi-tasking, and recommendations for the learning plans of children with auditory verbal or visual weakness.

In the linked abstract below, articulatory suppression refers to a 'blocking' of 'silent speech' by repetitive nonsense speech. If you say pa-pa-pa-pa-pa then it won't interfere with your ability to visually match two pictures or match a verbal description and a picture. But interestingly, a spatial tapping task at the same time could interfere with picture-picture matching and sentence-picture matching if the subjects noted that they tended to imagine a visual picture from the sentence.

In the classroom, some strongly visual learners struggle with balancing the spatial demands of handwriting and note-taking while listening to lectures that evoke strong images. For pure auditory verbal learners (what you hear is what you get), this isn't a problem.

Don't think that auditory learners get off too easily, though. Children or adults who are driving their subvocalization or "saying-to-yourself" pathways overly hard (may happen as a compensation for weak verbal or visual memory), may find themselves can be swamped by too many words or too fast-talking teachers. Because subvocalization during note-taking requires registering what a teacher said, and than saying again to yourself to remember, it means that there is a delay. If during this delay, more incoming auditory information comes in, then it jams the circuits.

Verbal and Visual Learning- Perils of Multi-Tasking

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