Visual perception

Visual perception is defined as the total process responsible for the reception (sensory function) and cognition (specific mental functions) of visual stimuli.

The sensory function or visual receptive component is the process of extracting and organizing information from the environment, and the specific mental functions that constitute the visual cognitive component provide the capacity to organize, structure and interpret visual stimuli, giving meaning to what is seen. Visual perception allows a person to make accurate judgments on the size, configuration and spatial relationships of objects.

Visual perception is among last skill a child develops, eye hand coordination is prerequisite. Visual tracking in vertical, horizontal, diagonal, circular plane is an essential precursor to visual perception.

Visual perception consists of:

Visual discrimination

Visual figure ground

Visual spatial relationships

Visual form consistency

Visual memory

Visual closure.


Visual perception skills enhance a person’s ability to perform his or her daily activities. For example during dressing, a person uses figure ground skills to select a garment from its background. Visual memory skills are needed when using computer or augmentative communication device on the scanning mode to remember the location of desired selection. Visual tracking is used during feeding, dressing and homemaking. The ability to complete a simple maze can make these tasks easier. Visual tracking is also essential in learning to read across a line or across a page.

Visual discrimination or matching skills are often used in sorting task for prevocational learning and letter discrimination in reading and spelling.

Visual sequential memory is used in higher level reading and numerical calculations and also for remembering phone numbers and addresses.

Visual closure is used when incomplete cues in the environment make visual completion of a form necessary, as in puzzles and games.

Visual form constancy is a skill needed for recognition of forms when they are similar or bigger or turned upside down. This used in feeding, dressing and hygiene tasks and also has a important role in letter and number recognition in reading and math.

Visual spatial relationships involve the orientation of objects in space and are used in activities of daily living. Academically they affect the visual organisation on paper and following directions.

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