Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina Brain Rule # 10 Vision – Vision Trumps All Other Senses

VisionDr. Medina says, “Visual processing doesn’t just assist in the perception of our world. It dominates the perception of our world.” P. 224 He goes on to use basic biology to prove his point. Light enters the eye, is bent by the cornea, and focused by the lens. From there, the light strikes the retina sending signals to the vision center of brain. This incredibly complex process produces good vision and it has been thought that, the signals that arrive in the brain must be interpreted to produce a clear picture of what the brain thinks is there. However, it is now believed that the retina actually processes the information before sending it on to the brain. P. 225

Another amazing thing is that our eyes work together to send information on to the processing center and form one image, rather than two. Our brain processes this information and fills in the blanks using our past visual experience and we judge its accuracy.

“As babies begin to understand cause and effect relationships, we can determine how they pay attention by watching them stare at their world. The importance of this gazing behavior cannot be underestimated. Babies use visual cues to show they are paying attention to something –even though nobody taught them to do that. The conclusion is that babies come with a variety of preloaded software devoted to visual processing.” P. 235

Finally, Dr. Medina reminds teachers that they must use pictures and animation to maintain their students’ attention. p. 236-239

Before I give Medina’s summary, I want to mention that he spends time on all of the senses in general with an emphasis on smell in Rule 9 and now a whole rule, Rule 10, on vision. Our world today does a better job of developing visual processing because of all of the visual stimuli that we receive from the beginning of life and more as time continues. Our forefathers had a more highly developed auditory processing system, meaning that people could sit and listen for greater time frames without the visual aids that we use today. I wonder why Medina did not include more emphasis on auditory processing in his Brain Rules. Many of our students who struggle have poorly developed auditory systems.

“Brain Rule 10 – Vision trumps all other senses.

  • Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.
  • What we see is only what our brain tells us we see, and it’s not 100 percent accurate.
  • The visual analysis we do has many steps. The retina assembles photons into little movie like streams of information. The visual cortex processes these streams, some areas registering motion, others registering color, etc. Finally, we combine that information back together so we can see.
  • We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.” P. 240

For more information: www.brainrules.net

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