I thought of something a while ago; and I only managed to experiment with it recently. We all write down and read numbers in the same way (depending on how your culture learns to read and write). For example, I am English speaking and therefore read left to right; knowing that ‘0’ is a place-holder etc. and we write long division/multiplication etc. in similar acceptable defined ways.
The difference comes in when an individual visualises numbers in their mind. I know this sounds strange (and you’re probably visualising a sheet of paper with numbers written on it from left to right; and thinking ‘there’s nothing significant about that’).
However, there is something significant about how we visualise numbers in our minds. Forget the piece of paper, and forget about what numbers look like when you read and write. Close your eyes and count from 1 to 10 in your head. What did that sequence visually look like in your mind? Now think of the entire series of numbers between 1 to 100. What does that gap look like? How is the sequence laid out or filled? I asked a few of my friends to draw exactly how they visualise numbers in their minds – this was the outcome:
Me – Dr Slater:
For some reason; I stack groupings of numbers in zig-zag formation in my mind (going up then right). Initially, with smaller numbers, the separator stack will be a series of ‘teen numbers. As place holder groups get larger, I stack groups of similar 10s together (thousands go together, ten thousands stack together etc. where every subsequent stack is a zig or a zag in the overall counting sequence).
This chick is crazy (in my opinion), because trying to immerse myself in how she visualises numbers in her mind causes my eye to twitch. She initially counts left to right in groups of 10s, but then eventually her sequence snakes between groupings of 10s (she starts counting right to left).
Ryan is very practical and straightforward in the way his mind visualises numbers. He counts left to right and stacks groups of 10s together going down. His mind is largely uncluttered by crazy sequences like mine. If you tell him to visualise just one number; he will only have nearby milestone numbers surrounding that number (to give it context in the overall numerical sequence).
Danny is similar to me in that there will be at least one stand-alone sequence before he starts stacking 10s of numbers (going down).
Some of you are probably bored or weirded out by me wanting to visualise numbers in my mind. I can reason with that – I also find numbers kind of boring. However, there has to be some deep interesting explanation as to why we all visualise numbers differently in our minds (and this is what truly intrigues me). The way in which each of us visualises numbers probably has a profound output in determining an individual’s analytical capabilities and problem solving abilities. For example; IQ tests usually determine how a person’s mind works (well or not), and not necessarily what you know (it’s not general knowledge or memory based etc.). Based on how I visualise numbers; you might think my mind is cluttered and poorly organised; and therefore my mind does not work well (low IQ). There is no admissible evidence to prove this link in my theory, but I do have hap-hazard thoughts!
Is there an expert in any relevant field related to this who can shed some light on this? Thanks guys!
✘ Hack It! ✘