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Medical Linear thinking Vs. Picture thinking

  1. Apr 12, 2006 #1
    Can you elaborate on linear and picture thinking process. Linear as being a step-by-step process, and picture thinking processes multiples "pictures" simultaniously. Which thinking procecss might make the person smarter, successful?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2006 #2


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    I assume you are talking about left and right brain thinking, as linear and picture thinking, respectively. One is not better than the other, it is how well you use it that makes you "smarter."
  4. Apr 14, 2006 #3
    no actually, a linear thinking process is where thoughts are associated with sounds. Therefore such person would solve a problem step by step. On the otherhand dyslectics have a nonlinear thinking process where they associate picture with thoughts, thats why its hard for them to read and write.

    I don't know much about this, so I'm wondering if anyone can elaborate.
  5. Apr 4, 2010 #4
    I am a sculptor and I think only in pictures. For me to think in words takes a conscience effort. I didn't even know that people thought in words. From my understanding, the best way to be (what ever that means) is to have a balance of both. Einstein said he could not have done what he did without imagination, that it is the most important thing when it comes to creating in any form. All of his experiments where done with mental pictures. Pythagoras deducted that everything is made of the same atoms, simply by thinking about it. No experiments. This cannot be done with words.
  6. Apr 4, 2010 #5


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    I don't think there's an answer to that question. It depends on the question.

    For example, consider these questions:

    • Which has more area, a square with sides measuring "a", or a circle with diameter "a"?

    An analytic (linear) thinker takes out a pen and paper, and starts doing the math. A visual person pictures the circle inside the square and answers much faster, the square.

    • What does the diameter of the circle have to be, to have an area equal to the square?

    Hmm, a bit tougher to solve with pictures!

    I agree with previous posters, a combination works best for most problem solving.
  7. Apr 5, 2010 #6


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    The contrast you seem to be trying to make is between verbal reasoning and mental imagery (though I agree that left brain/right brain is lurking there as well).

    The quick answer is that everyone uses both, even dyslexics, who have problems reading but not speaking.
  8. Apr 5, 2010 #7
    It's an old thread but still very intrueging. About visual thinking some background here.

    Personally I don't sense much difficulty level in visual and analytical thinking. I think I can do both.

    Maybe I'm allowed to give an example from the good old days, when the PC was still in the MS-DOS 16 bit words only phase in the 80ies while the mouse/image work was done by Apple McIntosh, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST on 32 bits. I toyed with the latter which was also the most simple. So I wanted to write an assembler routine for text to be printed proportionally on screen like the other two had, instead of the the fixed character width of 8 pixels. That required some thinking but analytical thinking was hard, especially going over 16/32 bit word address boundaries. However, the "aha!!!-that's-it" moment came only when I visualized how an old fashioned type-setter would shift individual letters on a type setting plank or whatever it is called in English, so I eventually wrote a routine that imitated that process.

    How could you draw a picture without visual thinking?
  9. Apr 5, 2010 #8


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    Kids do. Ask them to draw a house and they will draw it as a list of words - a door, a roof, a chimney, a couple of windows, the sun overhead.

    It is a verbal portrait, a collection of named attributes, rather than a visual representation.
    Learning to draw what the eyes actually see is a more difficult skill.

    If you really want to get into the issue of thought processes, Vygtoskian psychology is the best approach. It is all about how human language scaffolds natural mental imagery thinking (or anticipation - the first half of the perceptual cycle, as Ulric Neisser so neatly put it).

    And observing the developmental stages in the drawings of children is a classic way of seeing how the tool of language and the brain's natural capacities for mental imagery become a seamlessly integrated dyadic process.

    Introspection is also a learnt skill, and as with the hoary old questions about dreams (do you dream, do you dream in colour, do you dream of smells and tastes?), most people have not learnt to observe the structure of their own thinking and so cannot even answer basic questions about their use of an inner voice to shape their imagery.
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