Visual Memory: Studies Show Visual Memory Superior to Auditory Memory for Reading and Recalling Details
This article provides helpful information, games and activities for improving your child’s visual memory. Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
When you make a video on your phone, visual and auditory information is stored for safekeeping and can be played back when you want to access it again. Recording a video can be compared to a child’s working memory. Within your child’s working memory, there are functions that specialize in the type of input received. Auditory memory records what is heard, while visual memory captures what is seen. When you are behind the camera filming, you don’t necessarily have to pay close attention to details because the camera is doing most of the work. However, you still need to listen with your auditory and see with your visual system to know when to turn on the video recorder and when to stop recording.
Your child’s visual and auditory systems work the same way in the classroom as they take in information from the teacher and store it in their short term or long term memory. With visual memory in particular, a child needs to pay attention to gather the visual stimuli in their environment and process it before they can retain it and turn around to use it. Unlike a video, working memory isn’t always stored for later use. This type of memory has to be accessed and “played back” immediately for a child to store it in their short term or long term memory bank. This “playback” skill must be reliable so your child is able to perform daily tasks while new information is arriving or they can’t learn and retain information.
Working Memory Components
Working memory consists of the following three components that utilize the information seen, heard and performed:
- Phonological Loop is how your child recognizes information according to how it sounds; what is being heard.
- Visuospatial Sketchpad is responsible for your child’s short-term storage of visual and spatial information; what is seen.
- Central Executive Function is your child’s attention controller. It supervises and coordinates the work of the phonological loop and visuospatial sketchpad, which helps your child self-regulate initial reactions to their environment.
In Kenneth A. Lane’s book, Visual Attention In Children, it describes the visuospatial sketchpad as the function that is important for your child’s memory of the physical description of objects and their locations. It also plays a key role in the manipulation of mental images. The sketchpad serves an important role in a child reading ability because it visually encodes printed letters and words while maintaining a spatial frame of reference that allows the reader to back track and keep their place in a book.
Visual information is constantly being refreshed as a result of constant eye movements. The visuospatial storage is designed to maintain spatial information between eye movements and blinking, which explains why it has been linked to the control of our physical movement. In addition, studies have shown that visual memory is superior to auditory memory, which is why this system is one of the most important for your child’s learning potential.
Why Visual Memory is Important
A child’s visual memory is their ability to immediately recall the characteristics of any given object, symbol or form. If your child struggles to retain information and store it in their working memory, they may have problems with processing that information and transitioning it to long-term memory. Some children don’t have problems with their auditory memory (phonological loop), but struggle with their visual memory skills.
One such example is when you work with struggling readers sometimes the student repeats words (often whispering) as they read because they have to rely on their auditory memory to help them compensate for their poor visual memory. In this case, the child frequently has difficulty with comprehension. A student that struggles with visual memory often can’t remember what a word looks like or fails to recognize the same word on the next page.
Visual sequential memory is your child’s ability to remember symbols or characters in a certain order. This skill is especially important in spelling. If your child struggles with visual sequential memory, they may talk aloud while reading or they may whisper while spelling a word. Transpositions (reversing words), leaving letters out, and alphabet additions are common for students that struggle with this skill. Sequential memory also assists with recognizing and remembering patterns in schoolwork and in your child’s world.
A child who has inefficient visual memory may experience difficulties with the following:
- Remembering phone numbers
- Reading comprehension
- Initial recognition of letters (early preschool)
- Memory of common symbols
- Using a calculator
- Copying work from a classroom board to paper (cannot keep the visual image in the brain long enough)
How to Improve Your Child’s Visual Memory
There are a variety of different visual memory tasks, games and activities you can use at home to help your child develop stronger memory skills. As you begin to explore activities for your child, remember that each child functions at a different level and you may need to adapt a game or task to fit their specific need. Also, don’t be afraid to change it up or make the game more difficult as your child progresses. Start out with a simple activity and move to more complex ones, and always make the end goal achievable. Here are a few games to get that visual memory activated and working.
Grab a tray (cookie sheet) or box with several random objects and place them on the tray or box. You can use objects like Legos, blocks, action figures, bracelets, whistles and any other random items at your house. Also, have a towel handy. Have your child look at the objects for five seconds and then cover the tray with the towel so the objects are hidden. Ask your child if they can remember all the objects they saw and have them repeat back to you the objects they retained in their memory.
After they are done, have your child turn around and look away while you remove one of the objects. Remove the towel again and see if your child can recall which object is missing. As your child’s recall of the objects improves, decrease the number of seconds they have to view the objects on the tray. Change out the objects frequently and position them differently so you can ask them to recall the direction and placement of the objects.
Recall that Picture
Show your child a picture and have them draw the picture. Then remove both pictures and have them draw it from memory. It can be a very simple picture or drawing.
Play this in the child’s bedroom before bedtime. Have your child close their eyes in bed and move one object out of place in their room. Tell them to open their eyes and see if they can determine what object you moved.
Concentration Card Game
Concentration and memory games help your child retain and store information in their short term and long term memory. Because they have to visualize the images, they must store the information to play the game. Your kids will love playing it over and over again.
For more fun sequential picture games that are easy and fun, click here.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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