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Vision & Learning

See easier, Learn easier

It is estimated that over 80% of that information processed in our brains is visual. Vision is an extremely important way for us to take in information. Vision itself can be separated into a number of sub-set skills to help understand how complicated it is. Sight on a chart, which tells us how small they can read with letters set at distance, is only one skill. Vision also includes, side vision (peripheral vision), visual motor skills, visual accommodation, contrast sensitivity, stereo vision, colour vision and visual processing skills. We develop and fine tune these skills throughout our lifetime, that is, we learn how to understand and process what we see.

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If a child has vision problems, just "trying harder" is not the answer!

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More Information About Vision

To understand how we develop or learn some visual processing skills in the brain I will give you the example of a visual processing skill called Spatial Awareness. Spatial Awareness plays a very important part of our knowleddge of self and how we relate to the world and objects around us. Eventually, this broad concept related to the 3-Dimensional knowledge of our bodies, relates to the understanding of the correct way to write and read numbers and letters. Imagine a baby learning to reach out and grab a toy. The baby learns to interpret where his/her limbs are in space (Proprioception) and how far he must stretch the muscles in his arm, while interpreting the image of the toy and his arm reaching towards the toy (Spatial Awareness).



Spatial awareness involves the brain integrating our senses of vision, balance and proprioception to judge space. Each time the baby tries he learns more information about where his arm and body need to move to be able to reach the toy. This builds up a map of his/her body in relation to other objects.

The brain builds a body representation map, which tells us information about the space that surrounds us. Imagine your body surrounded by a lattice of microscopically fine spots pinpointing the exact location of every point in space. Some people have a very thick lattice and know how to localize every point in space with precision and accuracy. Others, have only a few spots in their lattice of localization spots and thus have a lower ability to localize their body parts and objects coming towards them.

In day to day situations, this may show up as clumsiness or bumping into things. In general trouble with co-ordination is often a consequence of low awareness of visual space and body location.

Our eye muscles also have special location receptors as well. Our brain needs to learn how to combine where it thinks the eyes are pointing with its feeling of eye muscle location receptors and also what it is actually seeing from the visual image of each eye. When these processes mismatch, especially if the information from the balance system is mismatched, then we start having trouble aiming our eyes well and/or motion sickness.

Quick Fact to try:
Close your eyes and lift up your right arm. Can you feel the arm is raised? Now lower it without looking at it. Could you feel that it is now lowered? The proprioceptive system allows us to know where our body parts are located. You can 'feel' where the arm is located. Our eye muscles have these proprioceptive receptors too! ome people know how to use these feeling receptors really well and can aim and co-ordinate their eyes accurately. Others, need a little help to learn how to do it better.

Head and Eye movements
An important part of the developmental process is learning how to move the head independent of the body and the eyes independent of our head.

Being able to move our eyes independent of our head allows for those tiny eye muscles around the eyes to practice precise movements, so that when we get to reading age, we can make those tiny reading eye movements without strain.

To be able to make reading eye movements, we also need our eyes to be able to cross the midline. That is, be able to move from left to right across the page. If the child has trouble with crossing the midline, they will very frequently lose their place on the line and become confused as to where they left off. It also affects handwriting. This is linked with visual motor skills and how well the person can use them across the middle of their bodies.

Why is crossing the midline so important?
Imagine a line all the way down your body from your head to your feet. This is the mid-line. In the diagram you will see the left side of the brain and the right side of the body in blue. This outlines that the left side of the brain 'talks' to the right side of the body and visa versa. When making movements across the midline, both sides of the brain need to communicate with each other efficiently to do it properly.

The left and right sides of the brain communicate across the corpus callosum. Because each side of the brain carries out different tasks, it is important for each side to communicate with the other across the corpus callosum in order to coordinate learning and movement. Vision & Learning - Body

As a whole, our brains have many areas of specialization and development. We as individuals have some areas that we are good at and others that we are not so good at. No one is, or needs to be perfect. What we do need though, is to have a certain level of fundamental skills that allow us to live our lives to the fullest. Good Vision is one of those fundamental skills.

Making sense of the information coming in from our different senses is related to Learning ability. Ask us how we can help.