In the Mind's Eye: Visual Thinkers, Gifted People with Dyslexia and Other Learning Difficulties, Computer Images, and the Ironies of Creativity

By Thomas G. West | Go to book overview

Preface

Several years ago, I was intrigued to learn that some neurologists were coming to believe that certain forms of early brain growth have beneficial effects at the same time that they produce notable difficulties in brain function. As I had considered the lives of a number of especially creative historical persons, I was impressed by the frequency with which they had curious deficiencies mixed with the more obvious gifts and special talents. I thought it was worth looking into these connections a little deeper in light of this new research to see what could be learned.

In addition, I had long thought that there was a different way of looking at these things, one that was not receiving appropriate consideration. I knew that some people have a strong tendency to convert almost everything into pictures in their minds, and felt that this propensity had greater significance than was usually appreciated. I was gratified to find ample evidence of this tendency and its great power in the extraordinarily creative persons profiled here.

While carrying out this research I began, tangentially, to consider the possible implications of this perspective in connection with several recent technological and scientific developments. Some new technologies, such as increasingly powerful and inexpensive personal computers, are making the usual problem areas less and less important. Common areas of weakness, such as spelling and calculation, can now be dealt with easily by these machines.

In a marvelous coincidence of historical change new opportunities are currently unfolding that may require special talents and abilities in just those areas where many individuals with learning difficulties often have their greatest strengths, such as in the visualization of scientific concepts and the analysis and manipulation of complex, three-dimensional infor-

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