​​​​Hardwired to Think Visually


Despite what some people might say about the way they process information or prefer to learn new information, we are all actually hardwired to think visually.

It’s undoubtedly true that some people will for instance have a preference for learning kinesthetically or through an auditory means. While others will find greatest comfort learning visually. These preferences for learning are formed at an early age. Early childhood experiences naturally condition us to gravitate to certain forms of learning over other forms. And there is therefore no doubt that some people learn best by approaching a subject using kinesthetic or auditory methods of learning. However, just because these are their preferred methods of learning doesn’t mean that they are optimal ways of learning information.

Brain research has shown that nearly 75 percent of the neurons in the brain are assigned for the processing of visual information. What this means is that three quarters of our brain is dedicated to vision, and the remaining quarter of the brain is dedicated to hearing, taste, touch and smell.

This is an incredibly important finding because it sheds some light on how we can optimize our ability to learn, remember and recall information in the most optimal way. But before I tell you that the “doodle” is the answer, let’s first take a closer look at the human brain.

copy divider

The Human Brain

There’s a lot that can be said about the human brain and how it processes information. However, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s focus on understanding the function of the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

left right brain hemispheres

To begin with, let’s look at the left hemisphere of the brain. This is the logical hemisphere that deals with words, numbers and lists. This is the side of the brain that thinks methodically and logically about your life and circumstances.

On the other hand, the right hemisphere of the brain deals with processing information in a creative way. It’s for instance stimulated by rhythm, color, daydreaming and when you use your imagination.

In general the brain craves excitement and color. The more stimulation it receives the more parts of the brain are activated, and therefore the better it is able to process information.

All this is very important when it comes to visual thinking and specifically as it relates to doodling.

To get the most processing power from the brain when you’re learning something new or trying to solve a problem, it makes sense to involve as much of your brain in the process of thinking as humanly possible. Yes, this involves engaging both the right and left hemispheres of the brain through various thinking activities. And yes, it certainly involves making full use of the 75 percent of neurons that are dedicated to the visual processing of information. And all this of course comes back to doodling.

When your brain is working with both words and pictures at the same time, it’s naturally more engaged with what you are doing, and you are therefore more likely to remember, retain and recall the information you are learning. Likewise you have greater clarity of thought because your thoughts are no longer the domain of the mind but rather brought into the physical world right in front of your eyes. Then as a result you can suddenly do more with this information by exploring it, evaluating it, expanding it, modifying it and/or re-imagining it.

Your thoughts take on a life of their own when you bring them to light.

copy divider

Final Thoughts

Whether you consider yourself a visual, kinesthetic or auditory thinker, there is no denying that we are all hardwired to think visually. As a result we will all gain value from learning how to doodle and use visual thinking principles in our lives. Yes, of course it might seem uncomfortable at first if you have been conditioned to learn information another way. But I’m not asking you to let go of your other learning preferences. If you consider yourself an auditory or kinesthetic learner then that’s perfectly okay. Keep learning in this way, but at the same time please keep an open mind because the domain of visual thinking can open a whole new world of possibilities for you.