Picture thinking is often confused with dyslexia, and it is true that people who 'think in pictures' often have difficulty with learning to read, but not all picture thinkers suffer from the normal symptoms associated with dyslexia. Some autistics think in pictures.

Symptoms that most picture thinkers do share are:

  • Problems remembering abstract chains of letters, like names.
  • Difficulty in explaining concepts they have invented.
  • Writing in a very convoluted style.
  • Natural ability to 'quick read' whole sentences instead of word for word, but when asked to read out loud what they have read they often use other words than what is actually written.
  • Ability to remember exactly the location and relative position of objects they have placed somewhere.
  • Ability to intuitively come to conclusions that are very hard to reach by using normal linear reasoning.

What a picture thinker is or does is still debated, but some research has been done in the Netherlands where they call picture thinking Beelddenken. Especially the 'Maria J. Krabbe Stichting' is doing some research, see link below. They have developed a method to detect picture thinking in young children using the so called "world game" ( 'het wereld spel' ).

Picture thinkers, as the word says, think in pictures, not in the linear fashion using language that is normally associated with thinking. Of course this is a simplification as nobody is completely a picture thinker, he would not be able to use language if he was.

Picture thinkers can come to conclusions in a sort of intuitive way, without reasoning with language. Instead they manipulate with another kind of logical/graphical symbols in a non linear fashion, they “see” the answer.

Picture thinkers often are inventors, architects or electronic engineers.

You could say that the word visionist describes a picture thinker.

The book 'The gift of dyslexia' by Ronald D. Davis and Eldon M.Braun also describes picture thinking, although they still confuse picture thinking with dyslexia.

There are many famous people who were probably picture thinkers, here is a short list:

Some external links: