6
   

The "visual gist"

 
 
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2012 06:37 pm
This morning I came across an interesting NYT article on dyslexia. It said, in part.

Quote:
The latest findings on dyslexia are leading to a new way of looking at the condition: not just as an impediment, but as an advantage, especially in certain artistic and scientific fields.

.........

But a series of ingenious experiments have shown that many people with dyslexia possess distinctive perceptual abilities. For example, scientists have produced a growing body of evidence that people with the condition have sharper peripheral vision than others.

........

Mr. Geiger and Mr. Lettvin’s findings, which have been confirmed in several subsequent studies, provide a striking demonstration of the fact that the brain separately processes information that streams from the central and the peripheral areas of the visual field. Moreover, these capacities appear to trade off: if you’re adept at focusing on details located in the center of the visual field, which is key to reading, you’re likely to be less proficient at recognizing features and patterns in the broad regions of the periphery.

The opposite is also the case. People with dyslexia, who have a bias in favor of the visual periphery, can rapidly take in a scene as a whole — what researchers call absorbing the “visual gist.”


Just for kicks, I looked up a list of famous dyslexics. I wasn't surprised to find a lot of inventors, artists, actors, musicians and entrepreneurs but I was surprised to find quite a few writers and journalists: Agatha Cristie, Hans Christian Anderson, John Irving, and Terry Goodkind, to name a few of the more famous ones.

Maybe I'm just misinformed about the nature of dyslexia but it seems odd to me that someone who has a hard time reading would choose writing as a profession.

So now I'm rethinking the idea of "visual gist" in relation to writing and wondering about the process of writing. When someone sits down to write, do you think they mostly know how the story will unfold before they start writing? Would this somehow be their "visual gist"? How might this peripheral vision enhance their writing ability?

Any thoughts?


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Type: Question • Score: 6 • Views: 4,265 • Replies: 21
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chai2
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2012 06:46 pm
If the person isn't too concerned about getting the words spelled correctly, I don't think writing would be unusual. That's what proofreaders are for.

Makes me wonder, not just about dys's, how many people don't try something they'd be really good at because the spelling police/measurement police/the "you're the wrong size" to do this police/you don't have the right utensils to cook well police squelched them.

The bumblebee isn't supposed to be able to fly, but no one told him he couldn't.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2012 07:04 pm
@chai2,
That's an excellent point!

I think there are probably a lot of people who never try things because they're told that it won't pay off for them -- that if they don't put away that typewriter right this very minute they'll end up flipping burgers for the rest of their life.

Now you've got me thinking about "policing"!
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 09:30 am
I saw this today and while I'm not sure why it made me think of this thread, it did....

chai2
 
  2  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 10:07 am
@boomerang,
Ha.
I like how he just flips his finger around....so blase about it.

This makes me think of something I've read (and recognized in myself) about how men and womens minds develop differently, and how I can relate it to chimps.

I know I've mentioned it here before, but it's about "leaf patterns"

It's been supposed that early female humans got good at recognizing the way something looked, and remembered later for future reference. An example would be a group of early humans traveling. The males, as the hunters, may have been looking ahead for specific attributes that meant good hunting. The females would observe something growing, that would be edible in the future, and she would remember what the general scene looked like, to be able to come back to it.

The chimps, being more foragers, are probably very good at quickly taking in a scene while swinging through, and remembering the picture it made.

Perhaps the chimp quickly looks at the grouping of numbers, and while not knowing, or caring what what they mean, interprets it the way he, and we, would see this...

http://www.derekmccrea.50megs.com/images/peaches_still_life_painting_small.jpg

I know when I would walk trails, and come to various forks, I'd turn around, looking at where I'd come from, and lock that view in my mind for when I was coming back.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 10:09 am
I am mildly dislexic, and although i hadn't ever thought in these terms, i do have skills related around this that i employ. For example if i have a list and want to find an entry by it's initial letter--say, "L"--i can scan down the center of the list and all the inital "Ls" pop out at me. I can scan through such a list very rapidly. I also use it finding entries on maps--i can just let my eyes wander over a map and place names (towns, rivers, road route numbers, etc.) also "leap out" at me. I sometimes do a lot better scanning text or an image than i do reading it. Reading serially requires special concentation so that i assure that i understand context. Transposing letters within words isn't so bad, becaue with sufficient education you learn to "autocorrect." Transposing words within a line, or between a line, though, makes reading difficult. Sometimes i have to read a line over and over again, especially if i'm tired. But if i just want to find a key word or phrase, i can scan and find it PDQ.
thack45
 
  2  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 10:37 am
@Setanta,
Scary how well that describes me.

Im also a painfully slow reader and have the whole periph vision thing. I see "everything".
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 10:46 am
@thack45,
My peripheral vision is superb. In Ohio, they test you for that when you get or renew a driver's license. Sometimes, they've check the machine, and/or have someone else come over to administer the test. You are to look straight forward and push a button when a light comes on in your peripheral vision. One woman asked if i was just constantly pushing the button. I've never missed a one on that test.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 10:46 am
@chai2,
Yes! I read something not long ago about pattern recognition and survival.... what the heck was that?..... but it basically reiterated what you just said. I'm going to have to see if I can find it. It might have been about mushroom hunters.....
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 10:51 am
Hey . . . i think that chimp's my cousin!
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 10:52 am
Okay Set, and thack, I'm really curious about this.

I've corresponded with you, Setanta, for enough years to know how well you retain information. I've seen you accused of cut and paste jobs even when you've replied within minutes of a post. You always remember such amazing details and you're always able to put things into understandable historical perspective. Now I'm wondering if you consider yourself a fast or slow reader.

And I'd love to know what you think about your information retention skills thack, based on your admission of reading slowly.

Can either of you elaborate on this?
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 11:01 am
@boomerang,
I'm a slow reader.

This--ligth--is obviously light, and you autocorrect when you read.

This--is transposing a sentence from one part of a word to another. That can throw you, but you can autocorrect for that that, too. It becomes more difficult, though, when there are such subtle differences that either word would work. You have to read the sentence again, and sometimes again and again, to make sure you've got the sense of it.

This--

The worst thing is transposing a sentence
from one line to another of the word.

Is the real nightmare, because sometimes you transpose between line number one and line number three, and you can end up thoroughly confused. Once again, the only remedy is to read the text over and over. I learned to read more than 55 years ago, in the summer before my fourth birthday. It was all hard, and i don't recall any particular difficulties which i might ascribe to dyslexia. So, i can read really, really fast (taught myself to do it), but i'm a slow reader because i have to read some parts of the text more than once.

Scanning is true dogsend--i can scan a text quickly, and then go back for the relevant portions afte i've identified them. Sometimes, i remember that something i read was on the left-hand page at about a third of the way though the book. I can open the book and scan dozens of pages very quickly to find what i'm looking for. After all, i don't have to read it, just scan for a key word or two on the left-hand side.

As for using a search engine--yeah, i do that sometimes. But if i didn't already know a subject in detail, i wouldn't know what to search for, would i?
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 03:18 pm
@Setanta,
Thanks, Set. That's really interesting.

I think I'm probably considered a fast reader but I do wonder if I'm not missing some nuance in the tales telling.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2012 03:35 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
This morning I came across an interesting NYT article on dyslexia. It said, in part.

Quote:
The latest findings on dyslexia are leading to a new way of looking at the condition: not just as an impediment, but as an advantage, especially in certain artistic and scientific fields.

.........

But a series of ingenious experiments have shown that many people with dyslexia possess distinctive perceptual abilities. For example, scientists have produced a growing body of evidence that people with the condition have sharper peripheral vision than others.

........

Mr. Geiger and Mr. Lettvin’s findings, which have been confirmed in several subsequent studies, provide a striking demonstration of the fact that the brain separately processes information that streams from the central and the peripheral areas of the visual field. Moreover, these capacities appear to trade off: if you’re adept at focusing on details located in the center of the visual field, which is key to reading, you’re likely to be less proficient at recognizing features and patterns in the broad regions of the periphery.

The opposite is also the case. People with dyslexia, who have a bias in favor of the visual periphery, can rapidly take in a scene as a whole — what researchers call absorbing the “visual gist.”


Just for kicks, I looked up a list of famous dyslexics. I wasn't surprised to find a lot of inventors, artists, actors, musicians and entrepreneurs but I was surprised to find quite a few writers and journalists: Agatha Cristie, Hans Christian Anderson, John Irving, and Terry Goodkind, to name a few of the more famous ones.

Maybe I'm just misinformed about the nature of dyslexia but it seems odd to me that someone who has a hard time reading would choose writing as a profession.

So now I'm rethinking the idea of "visual gist" in relation to writing and wondering about the process of writing. When someone sits down to write, do you think they mostly know how the story will unfold before they start writing? Would this somehow be their "visual gist"? How might this peripheral vision enhance their writing ability?

Any thoughts?
When I start to write,
minimally I have SOME IDEAS that can be shaped n massaged
into a good finished product. Along the way, I ofen get hit in the head with some creative inspiration.





David
0 Replies
 
thack45
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Feb, 2012 06:15 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
The latest findings on dyslexia are leading to a new way of looking at the condition: not just as an impediment, but as an advantage, especially in certain artistic and scientific fields.

Wish the article would've been more specific. Maybe I wouldn't have to work in a fecking grocery store the rest of my life... Smile
thack45
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Feb, 2012 06:54 pm
@boomerang,
Sorry for the late reply, a lot going on lately. But I have been thinking about this a bit and wanted to get back to it.

As to the question of "information retention", That's tough to say. First off, my short term memory is terrible - always has been. And I don't remember much more than a few images from my childhood. Not that that's even related(?). I really don't know if I'm any 'more skillful' at retaining information as I've never been any other way. All I can say is I think of my mind basically like a computer; one with an enormous memory capacity, yet is horribly inefficient at locating it. For all I know though, that's pretty much how everyone is.

A lot of times, I only retain bits of things as memories that are triggered during conversation, then I usually have to look for it. Small sequences of numbers, on the other hand, stay in there perfectly for years... old phone numbers, lock combinations...

I was also thinking about this peripheral means of viewing the world, and wondering if it's related to non-visual observation. Not only am I consistently amazed by what others don't see, but what they don't smell or hear, especially while they are engaged in something. It's almost as though there's a 'peripheral observation' mentality. Or maybe I'm just hyper-observant.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Feb, 2012 09:09 pm
@thack45,
Peripheral vision is related to the rods in your eyes.

I would never make in Ohio as I've had life long low peripheral vision, together with an excellent driving record. I use my eyes looking left and right perhaps more than others plus turn my head more when driving.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Feb, 2012 11:46 am
@thack45,
I realized that I never linked the article that I pulled the quotes from. It has some more specific information: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/the-upside-of-dyslexia.html

A lot of the research in this is being done by astrophysicists and astronomers. Dyslexia seems to be somewhat helpful in those fields!
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Feb, 2012 11:50 am
@thack45,
Quote:
All I can say is I think of my mind basically like a computer; one with an enormous memory capacity, yet is horribly inefficient at locating it.


Wow!

Quote:
I was also thinking about this peripheral means of viewing the world, and wondering if it's related to non-visual observation. Not only am I consistently amazed by what others don't see, but what they don't smell or hear, especially while they are engaged in something. It's almost as though there's a 'peripheral observation' mentality. Or maybe I'm just hyper-observant.


And wow again!

I'm going to ponder this a bit......

0 Replies
 
thack45
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Feb, 2012 12:09 pm
@boomerang,
Oops. Yeah, I dug it up and meant to link it too. Smile
0 Replies
 
 

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