Blogs & News

Gordon Dutton’s Blog (27) Building on visual memories

Can building up meaningful visual memories compensate for dorsal stream visual guidance of movement challenges?

When I went down for breakfast this morning, I leaned over the kitchen counter and, without looking, reached precisely for a plate in the back left hand corner of the underlying cabinet.

How was this possible?

By visualisation.

Many times in the past I've crouched down to look into the kitchen cabinet, to visually locate and reach for the plate, but this time I didn't need to.

I knew precisely where it was and reached accordingly, because I reached through my remembered visualised image instead.

Watch a gymnast doing a back flip on a bar with an accurate landing, they do this despite not being able to see the bar behind them, again by using visualisation.

So what's happening?

Our vision is miraculous. Not only do we recognise and react to our incoming imagery by seeing from 'outside to in', we also add in our remembered imagery from inside our minds. This adds to the incoming information, and enables us to find things and move with greater accuracy, as well as to anticipate the outcome of our actions.

What has this got to do with cerebral visual impairment (CVI)?

A very common issue among those affected by CVI, is disability finding things in a cluttered scene often accompanied by less accurate reach, because the surroundings are not being mapped in the mind with sufficient detail.

This is made much more difficult by distraction, whether there is too much to see, too much to hear or too much to think about, and is a problem that affects everyone, but much more so, those with CVI.

People with CVI are often able to function much better at home and in other familiar environments, probably because, in like manner, they are able to feed in their remembered visualisation of what they can see. This adds to their incoming vision, and to their ability to anticipate the outcome of their actions.

So the key message is to explore new places in advance when there is no-one else there, so as to build up the scene in memory, and to repeatedly work on all day-to-day practical tasks so as to learn to do things by using our inside to out skills, as well as our outside to in ones.

The outcome is very rewarding.

Practice makes perfect!

This blog is referred to in Nicola McDowell's blog 24.


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