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walk-in-the-rain
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21 Apr 2006, 11:56 pm

I have heard the term "thinking in pictures" before but really don't quite understand what it is supposed to be about. I had what I would consider a photographic memory from when I was a kid into early adulthood. I used to be very good at being able to scan information quickly and have a clear picture of it - like in school I would scan textbooks or notes before a test and be able to "turn" the pages in my memory during the test. I could also look at lists of words or dates and be able to remember them as pictured on the list. However, I have heard other people talk about a photographic memory and their being able to hold an entire picture of a scene in their memory and be able to tell the time on the clock on the wall, ect but for me it seemed mostly word-related.. So, is it something slightly different to everyone and does that have anything to do with thinking in pictures or is it entirely different. And what is supposed to be "typical" memory (for lack of a better term).



Energy
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22 Apr 2006, 12:13 am

There is a wikipedia article which explain visual thinking fairly well I think, but theres certainly other resources available on the net.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picture_thinking

Personally Ive never said I have a photographic memory, but my memories are stored in picture form... if someone asks me about a prior conversation I replay the video in my mind of that conversation... another reason Ive never thought of it as photographic memory is because its not a 2d image, that would insinuate that I only remember what my eyes see like a camera.. but because I tend to look around a lot Ive actually got some kind of 3d image which I can replay moving the viewing angle if necessary



Aeturnus
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22 Apr 2006, 12:22 am

I believe that, relative to autism, "thinking in pictures" refers to the need to visually see something to mentally process it. It also refers to process time that someone needs in order to recall information, because they have to visually organize the pictures in their mind.

A photographic memory, from what I've heard, is extremely rare. Many people with a photographic memory may be autistic. I don't know, but not all autistics have a photographic memory. I'm not sure what the concept of a photographic memory would be, though I've heard that it is the inability to forget anything that crosses their mind.

In terms of "thinking in pictures," think of it this way. I can't add too well in my head. It takes me a longer time than many people. And I'm usually unsure if I got the right answer anyway, so I always add on paper. I used to feel pressure when I was in school to think quickly, so when in college I never called out in math class unless I have done the problem first.

If someone gives me instructions, it's similar. I have trouble understanding procedural information in an auditory manner. I need to see it in order to understand it. I learn by hands-on experience. I can retain information in an auditory manner if I focus on specifics, but if someone keeps on going, I lose my train of thought. Generally, I will try it myself afterwards until I grasp it. That's how I got through college.

- Ray M -



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22 Apr 2006, 12:35 am

There is some research to suggest that visual spatial awareness (and related) are controlled by one hemisphere of the brain and linguistic skills (and related) by the other. From everything Ive read Im leaning toward the theory that autistim involves damage to the linguistic side, but the strength of the visual spacial side is independant of that. Also its believed most people posses some visual thinking ability, and most visual thinkers some linguistic ability.

There are people who remember every detail of what they see and can be the skill of a savant, someone whos brain only developed one very powerful hemisphere. I suspect "photographic" memory right down to basic visual spacial thought are exactly the same thing, the only difference being the power of the tool. There are also people who're unable to communicate their thoughts at all and I would suspect this is because they're unable to store linguistic information properly which go so far as being only able to remember the names of objects (nouns)



Aeturnus
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22 Apr 2006, 12:35 am

Energy wrote:
Personally Ive never said I have a photographic memory, but my memories are stored in picture form... if someone asks me about a prior conversation I replay the video in my mind of that conversation... another reason Ive never thought of it as photographic memory is because its not a 2d image, that would insinuate that I only remember what my eyes see like a camera.. but because I tend to look around a lot Ive actually got some kind of 3d image which I can replay moving the viewing angle if necessary


I've read this in a book about AS. I've never really thought of it this way. I don't see myself as replaying videos of conversations in my mind. There are bits and pieces of conversations that stick in my mind, and if it something that interests me, I tend never to forget it. In this manner, I can record some auditory information fairly well. I mean, I guess I may play videos in my mind. It could be one of those things that I've done all my life and think that everyone else does it as well. I don't know if that's an appropriate term in regards to the way I think. Like, I don't need to forward or rewind things in my mind. I can just put the pointer to that part of the conversation that which one asks of me. I generally can't remember conversations in great detail anyhow, but bits and pieces may resonate for a long time afterwards, especially if it is something that I'm interested in or something that bothers me or whatever.

- Ray M -



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22 Apr 2006, 12:39 am

Ah thats interesting as you say with the forward and rewind. I need a link to a conversation, for example if someone were to ask me about something they'd said they have to give me other details about the conversation they said it within so that I can find the memory.. Once ive found the memory I can recall any particular part of it yes.

So yah, in that sense its not like a VCR video.. but I can relate finding memories to going to the video store and retelling a scene of the movie to get the title from the clerk, once you have the title you can pull it straight down from the shelf and watch as desired.



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22 Apr 2006, 1:29 am

Energy wrote:
Ah thats interesting as you say with the forward and rewind. I need a link to a conversation, for example if someone were to ask me about something they'd said they have to give me other details about the conversation they said it within so that I can find the memory.. Once ive found the memory I can recall any particular part of it yes.

So yah, in that sense its not like a VCR video.. but I can relate finding memories to going to the video store and retelling a scene of the movie to get the title from the clerk, once you have the title you can pull it straight down from the shelf and watch as desired.


That's an interesting way to think of it. I've always referred to what I think about as thoughts and not so much memories. With what you said about the video store, that's how I tend to sort out my thoughts. I think on an almost continuous basis, nonstop really, and I have to sort out things to make sense of things. I like to write more than to speak, because it is so easy for me to sort things out.

- Ray M -



walk-in-the-rain
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22 Apr 2006, 7:16 am

Energy wrote:
There is a wikipedia article which explain visual thinking fairly well I think, but theres certainly other resources available on the net.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picture_thinking

Personally Ive never said I have a photographic memory, but my memories are stored in picture form... if someone asks me about a prior conversation I replay the video in my mind of that conversation... another reason Ive never thought of it as photographic memory is because its not a 2d image, that would insinuate that I only remember what my eyes see like a camera.. but because I tend to look around a lot Ive actually got some kind of 3d image which I can replay moving the viewing angle if necessary


Interesting info on Wikepedia - I don't why I keep forgetting about looking there. Interesting too that it mentioned about reaching conclusions much more rapidly - which is something my husband and others have asked if I am reading their mind because I will hand them something before they think of asking for it. To me it is simple reasoning that if they are starting to do "blank" they are going to want "blank" and things like that. So, there is no "reading" of anything - just anticipating based on past knowledge. I kind of think it is funny though because it sometimes freaks people out because just as it is occuring to them to want something I'm at the ready. When my son was little though I had to try and wait for him to ask because it is hard enough for him to think that I couldn't read his thoughts to begin with.



walk-in-the-rain
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22 Apr 2006, 7:22 am

Aeturnus wrote:
In terms of "thinking in pictures," think of it this way. I can't add too well in my head. It takes me a longer time than many people. And I'm usually unsure if I got the right answer anyway, so I always add on paper. I used to feel pressure when I was in school to think quickly, so when in college I never called out in math class unless I have done the problem first.

If someone gives me instructions, it's similar. I have trouble understanding procedural information in an auditory manner. I need to see it in order to understand it. I learn by hands-on experience. I can retain information in an auditory manner if I focus on specifics, but if someone keeps on going, I lose my train of thought. Generally, I will try it myself afterwards until I grasp it. That's how I got through college.

- Ray M -


I am the same way with things like addition and subtraction. And pretty much the same way when someone is giving instructions - after the first few sentences it's then like "blah, blah, blah". Give me a map or manual and I'll figure it out myself (lol).



walk-in-the-rain
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22 Apr 2006, 7:28 am

Energy wrote:
Ah thats interesting as you say with the forward and rewind. I need a link to a conversation, for example if someone were to ask me about something they'd said they have to give me other details about the conversation they said it within so that I can find the memory.. Once ive found the memory I can recall any particular part of it yes.

So yah, in that sense its not like a VCR video.. but I can relate finding memories to going to the video store and retelling a scene of the movie to get the title from the clerk, once you have the title you can pull it straight down from the shelf and watch as desired.


See that is odd to me because while I can remember conversations (not verbatim), my ability seems to be way more on rememering the visual written word. Like internet conversations I am pretty good at remembering what other people have posted (although not necessarily myself). In other words - if someone says "blank" on a list I may recall that a year ago they said something contradictory. But I don't think I could do that based on auditory conversation. For some reason my attention seems to be more focused on the written word.



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23 Apr 2006, 7:22 am

I have seen many references to this thing called 'visual thinking' but am not sure I fully understand it. I have known for some time now that I struggle when given verbal instructions. I have to have something explained several times and usually ask people to write things down. I tend to only learn things if I can try them myself, it doesn't matter how many times someone explains a concept to me or tells me about it, until I try it for myself I can't get the idea to stick. I prefer to express myself in writing as it's so much easier to organise my thoughts into some kind of logical order this way. And I don't know if this is anything to do with visual thinking but I have noticed that I have sort of a photographic memory for words. I don't want to sound as though I am boasting but once I see a word I usually find spelling it again really easy. I don't know whether that has anything to do with AS or not. I have a similar thing with written music. I sort of 'read' notes off a stave in my mind's eye after seeing a piece of sheet music several times.



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23 Apr 2006, 11:27 am

Mm, I'm quite a visual thinker I think. Also having chromaesthesia helps me to sometimes remember things - 'it distinctly was purple!' etc. I tend to find if I have auditory insrtuctions I then have to transfer them to paper in order to understand - it helps if I do it myself though. However I have to hear music (whilst looking at the manuscript) in order to have much of an idea how it's supposed to sound. From then I remember that music with a combination of what it's meant to sound like, the shape of the written music (usually with specific notes at marking points) and muscle memory if I'm playing the piece. I'm also good at spelling once I've seen a word (certainly much better at spelling than pronouncing lol!)


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TheOrangeMage
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23 Apr 2006, 10:05 pm

I have a very sharp memory. In school, I've finished history tests in 10 minutes, while others go so long as to have to continue the enxt day! (40-minute periods) I don't even study, ever! I just read whatever needs to be read once and that's it.

It seems I'm the exception here when it comes to taking tests. :?



walk-in-the-rain
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24 Apr 2006, 10:30 am

TheOrangeMage wrote:
I have a very sharp memory. In school, I've finished history tests in 10 minutes, while others go so long as to have to continue the enxt day! (40-minute periods) I don't even study, ever! I just read whatever needs to be read once and that's it.

It seems I'm the exception here when it comes to taking tests. :?


I used to do that in school also but didn't realize until about high school that other people couldn't do that. (In the short time I attended college) - a history professor put up a list of dates on the overhead at the beginning of the class and explained that everyone was going to know these dates by the end of the semester. While he moved onto some other info on the overhead I started writing out the list and gave it to him and the end of class just to see his reaction. :)



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25 Apr 2006, 1:43 am

I've managed to get a bit of focus into the visual part of my memory, but for the most part I remember in a mixture of kinesthetic and visual.

For example, when remembering an event, I can mentally project myself into the room where it happened, and re-experience it in 3-D. The background details are blurry, but the spatial coordinates of the place are very clear in my mind and body. If I'm sitting quietly, I can literally walk through the remembered environment. And, if I experienced any notable physical sensations in that place (*Ow!* ran into the corner of that blasted desk again) my body reacts as it did in the original situation.

In contrast, I find it very hard to exactly remember conversations. And, oddly, extraordinarily easy to remember music that I've heard (It's as detailed and clear as hearing it on the radio or stereo, only quieter and a bit in the distance).