A historical review of visualization in human cognition

  • Lloyd P. Rieber

DOI: 10.1007/BF02300481

Cite this article as:
Rieber, L.P. ETR&D (1995) 43: 45. doi:10.1007/BF02300481


This paper presents a historical overview of visualization as a cognitive strategy in human creativity, discovery, and problem-solving. Visualization strategies, such as mental imagery, pervade historical accounts of scientific discovery and invention. A selected number of historical examples are presented and discussed on topics such as physics, aviation, and the science of chaos. Everyday examples are also discussed to show the value of visualization in cognition for all people. Several counter examples are also discussed showing that visualization can also lead to erroneous conclusions. Many educational implications are discussed, such as reconsidering the dominant role and value schools place on verbal, abstract thinking. These issues are also considered in light of emerging computer-based technologies, such as virtual reality.

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© the Association for Educational Communications and Technology 1995

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  • Lloyd P. Rieber

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