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3a - Introduction

Posted by Helen St Clair Tracy in Level 3 - Introduction to the Visual Brain
Published: 07/03/2019, 12:57am | Updated: 13/03/2019, 2:45pm

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Your Brain Creates Your Visual World

Think for a moment...

"Are these words inside or outside your brain?"

This is not a trick question. As you read these words, you may be thinking that they are there, just in front of you, maybe on your computer screen. They are, but what you are in fact seeing is a picture of the words created inside your mind by your brain. A virtual image.

Some may already know this, others may find it hard to believe.

Everything you see is seen through your eyes. The eyes send the visual information to your brain and your brain creates the picture you see.

For most people, the picture created in their brain is a good match with what they are looking at, and where it is. It is so good in fact, that it's hard to imagine it is in your brain and not out in front of you!

Think about looking in a mirror, there is the real you, and the reflection of you. It's a bit like that, but your brain does not create an opposite reflection, it recreates things the right way around, but there is the real thing, and then there's a picture of it that your brain creates.

Looking in a mirror, there is the real thing and the reflection. In people without CVI, the mental picture made by the brain, is a detailed likeness to what is being looked at, in terms of where it is (how far away) what it looks like and the speed of its movement.

This is very important to understand, because... people with CVI, the mental picture the brain makes and the real world may still appear the same to them - but they aren't! This is what causes the difficulties.

So for those with CVI, the match between the real world and the world their brain creates is inaccurate. For some who are only mildly affected, vision is a bit more challenging, like when learning to read, or playing sports. For others it is more severe, and can be up to a point where the real world and the mental picture made by the brain, might be very different.

With CVI, many different visual processes can be affected in different ways, and at different levels. In this level of lessons we are going to introduce you to some of the key visual processes, most commonly affected.

CVI is an umbrella term for many different individual cerebral visual impairments.

CVI is an umbrella term for many different individual cerebral visual impairments.

To understand and support a person thought to have CVI, you need to understand which of the individual CVIs the person is affected by. Many are affected by several CVIs.


Before you move onto the next lesson, please check:

  • You understand that the visual world you see is created in your brain, and is a picture of what you are looking at.
  • You understand that CVI is an umbrella term for many individual CVIs

Next lesson: Level 3b An Introduction to the Visual Brain - Visual Acuity


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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.