Visual Processing

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Vision involves seeing with your eyes and processing what you see (cognitive vision i.e. what is going on in the brain).

In the UK, cognitive vision is the responsibility of Behavioural Optometrists. It is advisable to work with a Behavioural Optometrist, but there are very few working within the NHS.

Cognitive visual pathways develop over the first 9 years of life. Once a child’s cognitive visual pathways are developed they can then start to become skilled in their use – a child needs to practise cognitive visual skills in order to be able to master them fully.

Each visual pathway to the brain has a matter of a few weeks’ “window of opportunity” to develop, e.g. the ability to differentiate horizontal from vertical. If a child misses that window then, without specific corrective therapy, they will not develop that skill.

In a properly developed secondary student, 80% of learning is visual. If a student is not a visual learner they will have to work a lot harder than other students which will impact on their behaviour and energy levels.

If a child does not develop good cognitive visual pathways they will be dependent on their auditory pathways and can become very disturbed in noisy environments.

To understand cognitive vision more fully, watch YouTube clips such as the following:

A fuller understanding of the neurology of vision can be found at the MIT course on Psychology.

Cognitive Visual Processing Exercises & Games

Click on the links to download the exercises.
NOTE: Take care when doing eye exercises. Do not strain your eyes!

The following exercises will improve cognitive visual processing:

Cognitive visual puzzles on-line:


There are many lovely cognitive visual puzzles and games that parents can buy or communities can share including:

marbles, Lego, Boggle, Tantrix, Triominos, Jenga, Chinese Chequers, jigsaw puzzles etc.

If you cannot find them in a local store then go on line to companies such as The Happy Puzzle Company.
The advantage of physical toys over on-line games is that they require the child to use a much wider range of cognitive skills and usually make use of hand to eye to brain, which reinforces the integration of all the skills.