Visual Perception: Definition, Components, How We Use It And More

The perception visual although it seems an entirely simple process, not everything is what it seems is complex, since at the time as reading this article seems very simple, because we look at the letters and may be able to make sense of each of the words, and this is where a number of specialized brain structures and different subcomponents of vision are used.

Vision is the sense we depend on the most in our daily lives, and it is complex despite recent great progress in artificial intelligence and image processing, the way our brains process images is vastly superior. Then, how do we do it?

What is visual perception?

It is the ability to perceive our environment through the light that enters our eyes. The visual perception of colors, patterns and structures has been of particular interest in relation to graphical user interfaces because they are perceived exclusively through vision, understanding this type of perception allows designers to create more effective user interfaces .

Physiologically, visual perception occurs when the eye focuses light on the retina, within it there is a layer of photoreceptor (light receptor) cells that are designed to change light into a series of electrochemical signals to be transmitted to the brain. Visual perception occurs in the cerebral cortex of the brain, electrochemical signals arrive by traveling through the optic nerve and the thalamus, the process can take only 13 milliseconds, according to a 2017 study at MIT in the United States.

Why is visual perception so important?

Good visual perception skills are important for many daily skills , such as reading, writing, completing crosswords, cutting, drawing, completing math problems, getting dressed, finding socks on the bedroom floor, and many other skills. Without the ability to complete these daily tasks, a child’s self – esteem can suffer and their academic and play performance is compromised.

Recognizing letters and numbers, matching shapes, recognizing a face, finding a toy in a messy closet, reading a road sign – these are all examples of how visual perception can be used in everyday life. When it has not developed properly, the child can still learn to read and write, but it can take a lot of cognitive effort and can slow down the learning process .

What are the basic components necessary to develop visual perception?

There are many areas of visual perception, and teachers and practitioners sometimes differ in the terms they use to describe various visual perception tasks .

  • Constancy of form: Refers to the ability to recognize and label objects even when viewed from a different angle or in a different environment. A simple example would be that you can recognize that a dog is a dog, whether you see it in a photo, in your garden, or in the park, and whether it is sitting, lying down, or running. Labeling the object correctly means that this skill has a demand for visual perception and a verbal demand.
  • Sensory processing: Accurate registration, interpretation and response to sensory stimulation in the environment and the child’s own body.
  • Visual Attention: The ability to focus on important visual information and filter out unimportant background information.
  • Visual discrimination: The ability to determine differences or similarities in objects based on size, color, shape, etc. This visual ability can be described as “paying attention to detail.”
  • The visual figure-background:  It is the ability to see an object in a busy background; while the auditory figure helps a child to choose a voice or sound from a noisy environment.
  • Visual memory : The ability to remember visual features of a shape or object.
  • Visual spatial relationship vessels:  Understanding the relationships of objects within the environment.
  • Visual Sequential Memory : The ability to retrieve a sequence of objects in the correct order.
  • Visual closure: The ability to recognize a shape or object when part of the image is missing, even when it is partially hidden. This ability helps you quickly make sense of what you see, even if it isn’t visible to you, which means you don’t have to see every little detail to recognize something.


How do we use visual perception in everyday life?

Perceptual visual skills develop from infancy as the baby learns to focus and interact with the environment. Giving your baby and toddler plenty of opportunities to move and play indoors and out will help the eyes focus, follow moving objects, and locate objects in the environment.

Here is an example: Imagine a young child observing some movement in a flower on the other side of the garden, his eyes saw the movement and his brain decided that the information is worth noting. Using information from his eyes, his brain processes that the interesting object is a short distance away and not very close, and the child gets up to walk closer.

As you get closer, your brain processes the shape and detail of the moving object and compares it to the information already in the brain and makes a match – it’s a butterfly! Excited now, the little boy keeps getting closer.

Along the way, still looking at the butterfly, he takes a step around the toys he left lying on the grass. His peripheral vision noticed the cars and his brain processed this information and allowed him to go around them. As you walk, you can see the butterfly getting closer and closer, your eyes send information in 3 dimensions (depth perception) and your brain will process the information.

The child spends time admiring the pretty wings of the butterfly, his visual discrimination and figure and ground perception skills allow him to identify colors, shapes and patterns on the wings and detect the compound eyes of the butterfly, his skills of visual perception make it possible. The butterfly has decided to fly, the child’s eyes work together to follow its flight path up and over the garden wall.

Inspired, the boy runs inside and draws a charming picture of the butterfly’s symmetrical wings, using his visual memory of what he has seen, his mother writes the word “butterfly” and our little friend copies them.

Visual perception is about your brain processing what it sees , helping you make sense of it, and then directing your actions accordingly.

With poor visual perception skills, the child may not have been able to detect the butterfly, identify it, or recognize the colors and shapes on the wings, it may even have accidentally squashed it by getting too close. Poor visual perception would also have made it difficult for him to remember and draw what he had seen, and it would have been very difficult for him to copy the letters.

How can visual perception be assessed?

Visual perception makes it possible to carry out an incredible amount of activities, the ability to interact with the environment depends directly on the quality of your perception, this is the reason why evaluating and knowing how it developed can be useful in various areas of your life. , such as academics, medicine or professional areas.

In the academic field, it is important to know which children may have trouble seeing the board or writing notes. In the medical area, knowing one’s level of visual perception will be important to know if the patient can misread the instructions regarding his medication, or if he cannot live and prosper independently. Finally, visual perception in a professional setting will help you read or work in a potentially dangerous situation. Knowing which workers shouldn’t handle heavy equipment, or which ones may need help in a specific meeting, can make a difference for an employer.

With the comprehensive neuropsychological assessment, you can easily and accurately measure a number of cognitive skills, including visual perception. This assesses vision using a task based on the classic NEPSY test by Korkman, Kirk and Kemp , it allows to understand how well the user can decode and decipher the different elements in the exercise, as well as to measure the cognitive resources that the user must understand. and perform the task as efficiently as possible.

What can be done to improve visual perception skills?

There are several options that can be done so that the child with visual perception deficiency can focus his attention on what he is really doing:

  • Visual cues:  For example, use a colored dot or label to show which side of the page to start writing or reading on, or place a text mark on a cane inside the child’s shoes to find out which foot put them (dots face inward).
  • Directional arrows: To assist with direction or starting position (for example, for letter formation).
  • Graph paper: To help with word spacing and size.
  • Paper copies: Provide the child with the work to be copied onto a sheet of paper to put on their desk, rather than asking them to copy it from the board.
  • Alphabet Strip: Place on the child’s table where they can refer to the correct formation of the letters.
  • Eliminate clutter: Encourage your child to keep his desk free of distractions and clutter.
  • Place the desk away from distractions: Place the child’s desk in an area closer to the front to avoid distractions from other students.
  • Eliminate visual distractions: Eliminate as many visually stimulating classroom wall decorations as possible, especially near the child’s desk.
  • Keep spreadsheets clear and simple: Avoid unnecessary decorations (eg, put only one activity on a page, remove pretty borders on worksheets).
  • Outline Boundaries: Use a red marker to outline boundaries for coloring, mazes, or cutting tasks.
  • Break the visual activities into small steps: When working on puzzles, present one piece at a time and cover unnecessary pieces of the puzzle.

What activities can help improve visual perception?

Several activities can help a child who has problems with his visual perception, as parents, teachers and family members can be achieved to do these tasks and to be dynamic and fun:

  • Picture drawing:  Practice completing partially drawn pictures.
  • Review of work: Encourage your child to identify errors in written material.
  • Memory games.
  • Sensory Activities: Use flexible items like pipe cleaners to form letters and shapes (because feeling a shape can help you visualize the shape). The letters can be glued onto index cards, and then the child can touch them to “feel” the shape.
  • Construction-type activities such as Duplo, Lego or other building blocks.
  • Memory cards with a correct letter on one side and an incorrect letter on the other side . Have the child try to draw the letter correctly, then turn the card over to see if it is okay. (Have them write in sand or finger paint to make it more fun.)
  • Word search puzzles that require you to search for a series of letters.
  • Identify objects by touch: Put plastic letters in a bag and have the child identify the letter with “touch.”

Pathologies and disorders associated with visual perception problems

Poor visual perception can be caused by a variety of problems and difficulties of different levels.

The total or partial loss of vision due to damage to the perceptual organs would cause significant perception problems (blindness), this can be caused by damage to the eye itself, damage to the pathways that carry information from the eye to the brain (such as glaucoma) or damage to areas of the brain responsible for analyzing information, such as a stroke or brain injury.

Perception is not a unitary process, it requires the use of many other processes and mechanisms, which means that other specific damages can alter any of the processes mentioned above, these deficits are known as:

Visual agnosia , which is the inability to recognize learned objects, even when their sight is intact, is typically divided into two types: perceptual agnosia, which allows the person to see the parts of an object, but cannot understand the object as a moment, and associative agnosia, which allows the person to understand the whole object, but does not, I do not know that it is difficult to understand the perceptual experience of people with this disorder, because while they “see” the object, they have the feeling of being blind.

Akinetopsia, is the inability to see movement, Achromatopsia , is the inability to see colors, Prosopagnosia , is the inability to recognize familiar faces, and Alexia , is the inability to learn to read, along with others.

In addition to the difficulties that partially or totally affect the ability of visual perception, there are other disorders that alter the visual information received, either distorting the visual information or eliminating it completely, such is the case of schizophrenic hallucinations or other syndromes, there are also other types of visual illusions that make people lose their vision, as with Charles-Bonnet syndrome, with this syndrome, the person will have lost their vision, and after a long period of time the brain does not receive no visual stimulation or activity, it begins to malfunction.

How can I tell if my child has visual perception problems?

If a child has difficulty with visual perception, he may have difficulty:

  • Complete puzzles or points to points.
  • Planning of actions in relation to the objects around him.
  • Spatial concepts such as “entry, exit, next, up, down, in front of.”
  • Differentiate between «b, d, p, q».
  • Invert numbers or letters when writing.
  • Losing place on a page when reading or writing.
  • Remember left and right.
  • Start reading.
  • Sequence of letters or numbers in words or mathematical problems.
  • Remember the alphabet in sequence,
  • Cope from one place to another (for example, from the blackboard, from the book, from one side of the paper to the other).
  • Dress up (i.e. matching shoes or socks).
  • Discrimination between the size of letters and objects.
  • Remember words recognizable at first sight.
  • Complete partially drawn images or templates.
  • Attending a word on a printed page due to its inability to block other words around it.
  • Filter out visual distractions such as colored bulletin boards or room movement to attend to the task at hand.
  • Sort and organize personal belongings (for example, may seem disorganized or sloppy at work).
  • Hidden picture activities or finding a specific item on a cluttered desk.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.