Quickly, name your five senses.
That’s easy! Right?
Sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste.
Now, what percentage of information comes though each sense?
That one is not so easy.
Here’s another way to think about this. How much information do we gather from each sense in the same amount of time as compared to the other senses? For the moment, assume that each of your senses works perfectly.
Senses: What The Research Tells Us About Their Abilities
Neuroscience and cognitive psychology research has uncovered the amazing power of our senses. This was unimaginable a few years ago.
According to researchers Dr. L.D. Rosenblum, Dr. Harold Stolovitch and Dr Erica Keeps, here’s how much information each of our senses processes at the same time as compared to our other senses.
83.0% – Sight
11.0% – Hearing
03.5% – Smell
01.5% – Touch
01.0% – Taste
That’s surprising. And it flies in the face of some of our conventional educational theories like VAK (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) and Learning Styles. No matter how you slice the pie, our brains give preference to processing vision as compared to our other senses.
Dr. Stolovitch and Dr. Keeps use the following examples to help us understand this better.
Imagine you’re in an open field. How far can you see? About 50 miles. How far can you hear? Maybe a mile or two. How about smell? 10-20 yards, assuming that the wind is not blowing. How about touch? Just an arm’s length. Taste? A couple of inches.
Senses As Learning Portals
As learners, each of our senses has different processing capacities.
Sight is the major sense and extremely important to learning. Hearing is also important because we acquire our language skills as young children through our hearing. Language gives us the ability to name and explain our experiences. Together sight and hearing help us perceive much of the world around us.
The more our senses are engaged in meaningful and structured methods, the more easily learning can occur. Ultimately, our senses act as learning portals. All raw information enters our brains through those learning portals. Our challenge is making meaning from that information and connecting it with previous experiences and past knowledge.
Do we perceive all of the information bombarding our senses? Do we have the ability to selectively filter out unnecessary or irrelevant information coming in through our senses?