Visual Perception (A Comprehensive Guide)

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An individual’s ability to perceive, organize, manage, and interpret consciously any information which he or she receives from sensory resources is called Perception.

There are two main domains of processing the perception in which we manage information through bottom-up or top-down processing.

Bottom-up Processing: this type of process begins with the initial information, in which we drive the initial data from the surroundings and from the environment.

It is drawn from the stimulus directly.

Thus the basic information although in the form of any sign, signals which we received from any visual source is called bottom-up processing.

Top-down Processing: This process refers to providing the meaning of basic information we get from the environment from visual sources.

To give meaning to any object or information we use the contextual or background information such as we perceive the whole situation and conclude the recognition of any stimulus, fact or object called top-down processing.

In this article, we will discuss visual perception.

What is Visual Perception?

An individual who are able to read any information concludes that it’s an easy process and it makes no effort.

When we look at any object or anything, our mind gives meaning and we are able to recognize that specific object.

The process of recognition and giving meaning is a very complex process in which the number of brain structures involved. 

In the whole process brain parts and our prior knowledge are involved.

The human ability to give meaning, interpret the meaning from collecting the information from the surroundings which our eyes receive is called visual perception.

Our brain parts give meaning and through the brain helps us to understand any object.

For example, when we see any tree or shop, our mind helps us not only recognize that it is a tree but also helps to know the whole background of a tree-like which type of tree, its leaves are green, and what specific fruit we can find in this tree.

The whole process is called visual perception which starts from our eyes.

The process of information is as follows:

·         Photoreception: when we see, the light rays reach our pupil, the internal part of the eye and provide information to the receptors, the cells who receive any information and give the information to the retina, the very internal part of the eye helps to build up the shape of anything.

Transmission and Basic processing:

The signals which we received from the different cells communicated through the optic nerve towards the brain.

The signals pass through the optic chiasma in which the different neurons which transform the information in the right part of the brain.

The information there we get meaning to any stimulus transform in the left hemisphere and the vision information transforms in the right hemisphere of the brain.

At the end of the processing, all information that our eyes receive is sent to the visual cortex in the occipital lobe.

Characteristics of Visual perception

  • We can understand the visual perception through different examples such as: Let’s try to think about the ball. Now think what the factors that you should identify are:
  • Firstly, you can view the color of the ball.  
  •  You can see the lines which are prominent in the ball.
  •  You can recognize the surface of the ball, its smoothness, parameter, and the rest of the things or objects around the ball and behind the things.
  • You can estimate the size of the object, for example, its size is 26, 27 inches.
  • You can realize that the shape of the ball is round.
  •  You can estimate the position of the ball.
  • You can estimate the distance of the ball in which distance the ball is kept from you.
  • The ball dimensions and any other important information like any printed thing can realize.
  •  When you kick the ball in which direction the ball went from your side.
  •  You can even recognize the relationship of that object that might be very important to me or any emotional affiliation with the specific thing.
  • The name of the ball like its cricket ball and soccer ball.
  • You can realize that there are different steps in which we are following. This is only one example and you can realize that our human brain continuously does processing to analyze different things and give meaning in the daily activities as well. The brain does not only passively perceive information and help to complete the seeing process and all parts of work composed and giving meaning to any object.

Visual Perception skills

The visual perception is to give meaning to all objects which are eyes seeing and make sense.

Our daily activities are also included in this process like eating, dressing, eating, writing and playing. 

The activities we are doing like playing with children, doing shopping and all the things we are watching and dealing in our daily lives.

There are some types that can help us in understanding these things more easily.

Visual-Spatial relations: It is the ability to recognize and differentiate the same objects which are only turned in different directions but somehow look the same.

The example of this is the children having difficulty in writing b and d as they are in different directions but the shape of the object remains the same.

Those children also have the difficulty of differentiating in and out, right and wrong, left and right.

This problem prevails in the adult population as well.

Sequential Memory:   The sequential memory is the part of the visual-spatial relation, in which individuals can form or make a part of a series.

The ability to recall the sequence of a procedure and try to generalize it on others is called sequential memory.

Deficits in sequential memory related to the inability to sequencing the alphabets, or repeating one place to another. 

At times, older children may skip the words while coping. Because they perceive it as another word rather than the part of the previous one.

Which indicates the problem in sequential memory.  

Visual discrimination

The ability to distinguish between object and norms such as differentiation between money and coins, or being able to differentiate different letter of alphabets are called visual discrimination.

People who lack visual discrimination faced difficulty in both similarity and differentiation between objects.

These People are not able to distinguish between alphabets that share similar characteristics such as the alphabet n and m, b and d, and p and q.

All of these letters share some similarities and differences with others.

Form constancy.

Human’s ability to understand a form of a specific pattern, focus on its size and shape, and then try to generalize it towards other forms usually called form constancy.

Children usually have a problem of form constancy in their early age of life when they try to learn new things, for example, children faced difficulty in identifying that 6 and 9 are two dissimilar numbers and have different meanings as N and M have a separate identity in alphabets.   

Visual memory.

Visual memory is totally different from what we read above as visual-spatial memory.

Humans have the ability to store visual information such as a friend’s phone number in our short term memory.

Any problem with visual memory may affect the ability of reading comprehension.

Suppose that you are showing a picture to someone and then ask a question related to that picture.

Children who have problems in their visual memory will be unable to read the details about the picture and will answer incorrectly.   

Visual closure.

The ability to fill in the gaps or space in order to complete a picture to perceive it as a whole is called visual closure.

Visual ability is linked with our cognitive ability of abstract problem-solving.

Think about solving a puzzle, memorize all the details in your mind, and rebuild it again with the help of your information.

If deficits occur in the ability of visual closure it is directly related to the problems in writing and spelling.

Such as a child who has deficits in their visual closure ability may forget the end or the middle of a word.

With writing the child won’t know if the word is complete or not.    

Visual figure-ground.

Visual figure-ground is the ability to notice a form that is actually buried in a firm background.

Such as a child’s ability to find a blue crayon in their pencil box. The child will ignore all the other crayons (background) to find a blue crayon.

Games related to visual figure-ground help a child to enhance its ability, think about hiding a picture, and ask a child to find it.  

Here are some example that is useful to enhance visual perception

  • Paper and marble mazes
  • Dot activity (connect dots and make a picture)
  • Completing the puzzle
  • Copy the picture or a particular form
  • Fix the wooden blocks
  • Modeling
  • Match and sort the letters and numbers

Examples of visual perception

  • ·         Driving a car is a complex task because it not only includes the cognitive process but also visual perception. If any deficit occurs in visual perception you may face serious consequences such as you may have an accident while driving and endanger your life or the others sitting next to you. To secure yourself from any damage you must be aware of how far or close the other cars and their speed are. Which is not possible without visual perception.  
  • ·         Children with a good visual perception usually take advantage of their ability in understanding the material explained by their teachers and it also helps to take their notes quickly as compared to others. The deficit in visual perception leads to poor understanding and low academic performance and grades.  
  • ·         Visual perception is also important in the task of drawing and graphic designing. Think about making a picture that is based on natural scenes. You must have to use your visual perception in choosing the color and drawing perfect lines.  
  • ·         For supervision and looking after someone visual perception is very important. A security guard must have a good visual perception so that he may be able to see the security cameras appropriately.

All the above examples show that we need visual perception to function appropriately in our everyday life.  

If you’ve enjoyed the ”Visual Perception” mentioned above, I would recommend you to take a look at ”10 Cognitive Distortions” too.

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FAQ about Visual Perception

What is visual perception?

The ability to use visible range light that reflects the objects in your nearby surroundings so that you can understand your environment is called visual perception.

Or visual perception is a resulting perception such as eyesight or vision.  

What are the elements of visual perception?

The human eye is made up of a variety of complex systems.

It includes the cornea, iris, pupil, a focus lens and the retina.

All of these components work together to form an image so that a person can see.  

What is the process of visual perception?

The main part of this process is the retina.

Inside the retina, there is a layer of cells that receive light called a photoreceptor.

Photoreceptors help to change the receiving light into electrochemical signals so that it can be easily transmitted to the basically visual perception takes place once the eye emphasizes the light on the retina.


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