What is visual thinking?


If the human brain is compared to a computer, this computer has a powerful central processing unit and hard disk, can perform complex functions and store a large amount of information, but the memory is too small, once the information is received or processed in a short period of time, it will "freeze". We remember phone numbers, we can only remember one phone number at a time, it is very difficult to remember two phone numbers, we have to find a small piece of paper to write it down. Customer service staff will be confused and confused when facing three or four customers taking turns to consult. This phenomenon arises from the fact that the capacity of the brain's working memory is very limited.

Working memory is a short-term memory of temporary storage of information, and its capacity is usually considered to be 7 numbers, or three or four information units, such as when we remember the mobile phone number, it is often split into 3 paragraphs. Unlike ordinary short-term memory, working memory selectively combines new information from sensory input with content from long-term memory to accomplish a cognitive task. Working memory capacity is closely related to cognitive processes, and people with generally larger working memory capacity have stronger intellectual and creative thinking abilities.

Functional MRI studies have shown that the brain region most closely related to working memory is in the frontal lobe. When the subject used working memory, both frontal lobes were activated very stably. As a module of the brain's executive cognitive function, the frontal lobe is responsible for retrieving relevant rules and knowledge from long-term memory, and conducting thinking activities after analogy with new information. The essence of working memory is the functioning of the brain, the basis of all cognitive activity, not just the storage of information.

Working memory is so important, but why is capacity relatively small? From an evolutionary perspective, working memory is like a spam filter, keeping a lot of irrelevant information from flooding the CPU. For Homo sapiens 10,000 years ago, the capacity of working memory was sufficient to cope with changes in the external environment. However, with the rapid development of civilization, we often lament that working memory is not enough, and insufficient memory leads to brain "crash" frequently.

If the computer does not have enough memory, we can add a memory stick, and if the brain's "memory" is not enough, we cannot disassemble it and add the chip, we have to add an "external cache" (portable hard disk) to it - using the visual thinking method.

Visual thinking refers to the use of words and patterns to display various information, including new information related to tasks, temporary information obtained by reasoning, and relevant information from long-term memory, on paper, blackboard or screen. The advantage of this is that the information can be preserved in time and analyzed from a more macroscopic and comprehensive perspective, rather than one at the expense of the other. Therefore, it helps to clarify the logical relationship between the information and leads us to think deeply along the logical threads.

Visual thinking has many forms of expression in work and life: driving dashboards on cars, trains, and airplanes, trading pages used by financial investors, business reports of enterprise managers, character relationship diagrams used in solving cases, matrix diagrams used for time management, paper charts of scientific researchers, mind maps made in the teaching process, etc.

Taking the teaching mind map as an example, it sorts out the connections between knowledge in the form of words, symbols and patterns, and establishes a clear and complete knowledge network, thereby improving students' learning efficiency and exercising students' scientific thinking. In the process of drawing a mind map by themselves, students can improve their learning autonomy and memory timeliness. When doing questions through a mind map, students only need to clarify the conditions given in the question, and they can extract the relevant knowledge network from the mind map that has been built in their brains and easily find the idea of doing the question.

Tony Bozan, the inventor of mind maps, was originally an expert in brain science. He thinks neurons are like octopuses. The body of the octopus is equivalent to the neuronal somato, and the tentacles are equivalent to neuronal protrusions, which form synapses between the protrusions and surrounding neurons, connecting neurons to transmit information. In fact, Tony Bozan simulated the structure of the neural network to make a mind map, which was sent outward from the central theme, connected to the nodes with wires, and then sent out more child nodes, and then connected between nodes according to a certain way of thinking.

There are many more examples of the visual thinking approach. If in the process of work and study, we find appropriate visual thinking methods for different tasks, and continue to practice to reach the level of proficiency, we can make up for the lack of "insufficient memory" of the brain, give full play to the flexible thinking ability of the brain, and achieve leapfrog growth of the mind.