What is Visual Memory?

By Dr. Randy Kulman on Tuesday, October 20, 2015
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 brainWhat is  Visual  Memory? The term “Memory” is used in casual conversation to generally describe an individual’s capacity to recall, but in psychological communication may have a far more specific meaning. Not only do terms such as “Short Term Verbal Memory,”  “Verbal Working Memory,”  “Visual Spatial Memory,”  “Visual Spatial Working Memory” and ”Long Term Memory” all have different (though sometimes overlapping) meanings, they also tend to activate varying locations in our brains. So, a parent who describes their child as having a “great memory” because they can recall every ride that they went on at Disney World 2 years ago (Long Term Memory), but frustrated by their child’s lack of effort because he cannot seem to remember  a 2 step direction (Verbal Working Memory), may be looking at 2 very different types of memory, using 2 distinct portions of the brain.

Visual memory allows a person to remember what one has seen in the recent and distant past. It plays an important role in letter identification, spelling, and recalling where an individual has put their possessions. For example, a person who appears disorganized but has strong visual memory skills may be able to recall where something is located under a mess of papers or clothing,parts of brain

Visual memory may be affected by many variables. Poor visual discrimination skills, difficulty processing visual information, or poor attentional skills all can impact visual memory. Visual memory issues are often associated with kids diagnosed with dyslexia.

Visual Spatial Memory is assessed in measures such as the Spatial Span Forward test of the WISC-IV Integrated and the Spatial Recall Test of the AWMA.  Recall tasks on the Bender 2 and The Rey Complex Figures can also tap into these skills.


For More Information Regarding Visual  Memory, Please Visit The Following Links:

The Cognitive and Behavioral Characteristics of Children With Low Working Memory: This article includes a study that explores the cognitive and behavioral profiles of children with Working Memory impairments, and an overview of working memory deficits in children.

LearningWorks for Kids: 6 Easy Ways to Improve Visual Working Memory: This article provides tools and strategies that help practice visuospatial or visual working memory and improve working memory skills in general.

Is Working Memory Training Effective? : This article published in the journal of Developmental Psychology, discusses the potential of working memory training in youth.

Activities to Promote Visual Memory: This website briefly describes what children with ineffective visual memory may be struggling with, and explains several activities for you and your child to do that can help improve visual memory skills.

Understanding Visual Processing Issues: This website explains everything parents need to know about visual processing issues. It describes different types of visual processing issues, causes, symptoms, what can be done to help and more.

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