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The term visualization has two distinct yet related definitions. The first entails the (→) perception of visual (→) information, and is somewhat synonymous with the act of “seeing.” The second entails the process and end products of communicating visual information, and is related to the act of designing. In both cases, visualization is a complex process that requires filtering and abstraction in order to be interpreted.
Visualizations as applied to the act of “seeing” are not simply a matter of acquiring sensory information. Indeed, the term often applies to the formation of mental images in the absence of external stimuli (as in a daydream or representation of an abstract theory or concept). Even in the purely physiological process of perceiving light information, filtering and abstraction occur at various hierarchical stages along the visual pathway—at the retina, the thalamus, and at multiple regions of the visual cortex devoted to motion, color, object identification, and other...