Monday, March 30, 2009
fMRI of Learning Styles: Confirmation of Visual and Verbal Learners
Using a simple True/False Learning Styles questionnaire(like this, see below), researchers found that people could reliably predict whether they are predominantly visual or verbal learners. When verbal learners remember pictures, they translate pictures into words (their preferred style of storing information); whereas visual learners will do the reverse - translating words in pictoral representations. Verbal learners activated their left supramarginal gyrus, whereas visual learners activated their right fusiform cortex.
Great to see these individual differences in learning confirmed with functional MRI imaging. Even among some of our esteemed colleagues we've heard such opposite remarks as, "Who can think without words?" and "I can't make any pictures in my mind..." For different subjects, this visual-verbal divide can have dramatic consequences on student achievement (or lack thereof). Verbal teachers may have very little understanding for students who can't explain their work, whereas visual teachers may be baffled why their verbal students can't understand what's right in front of them to see. Interestingly, the translation of visual information into verbal, or verbal into visual is rarely taught - most successful adults have stumbled into effective strategies for learning difficult visual or verbal material, but maybe studies such as this will change (our Visual Spelling Homonyms book is at effort at this).
Visualizer - Verbalizer tendencies do seem to run in families, so parents and relatives may be more natural tutors than teachers who may have a very different cognitive thinking style. In some cases, it is one parent who is more like the child - and that's the one that needs to help the most and provide strategies for learning and retaining difficult material.
The Visualizer-Verbalizer Cognitive Style (REVISED)
T F 1. I enjoy doing work that requires the use of words.
T F 2. My daydreams are not so vivid that I feel as if experience the scene.
T F 3. I enjoy learning new words.
T F 4. I can easily think of synonyms for words.
T F 5. My powers of imagination are not higher than average.
T F 6. I seldom dream.
T F 7. I am not a slow reader.
T F 8. I cannot generate a mental picture of a friend's face when I close my eyes.
T F 9. I don't believe that anyone can think in terms of mental pictures.
T F 10. I prefer to read instructions about how to do something rather than have someone show me.
T F 11. My dreams are not extremely vivid.
T F 12. I have better than average fluency in using words.
T F 13. My daydreams are rather indistinct and hazy.
T F 14. I have to spend very little time attempting to increase my vocabulary.
T F 15. My thinking does not often consist of mental pictures or images.
Let each True = 1 and False = 0.
The individual's score is computed simply by adding up their scores
on all fifteen items and dividing by fifteen. Verbalizers will
be equal to or approaching 1, whereas visualizers will be equal to or approaching 0.
fMRI of Visual and Verbal Learners pdf
Visual learners convert words to pictures and vice versa
Eide Neurolearning Blog: The Tyranny of Our Thinking Styles