Thursday, February 21, 2013

Expand Your Spatial Intelligence - Visualize, Project, Construct

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When you visualize, project (into the future, thinking of various next moves or paths beyond just simple extrapolation of a recognized pattern), anticipate, or construct a three-dimensional object in your "mind's eye," you are exercising the power of your spatial intelligence or spatial reasoning.

Spatial intelligence is the ability to comprehend and conceive (imagine) three-dimensional images and shapes. This is a primarily a function of the right side of the brain and is used when solving puzzles, figuring out maps and taking part in any type of construction or engineering project.

While spatial intelligence may, in some instances, involve so element of literal vision, it also incorporates abstract and analytical abilities that go far beyond merely seeing images. In The Global Futurist Blog, I have to stretch my spatial intelligence to the limit in order to project alternative future scenarios which incorporate a wide variety of variables. Projection, in this case is the basis of prediction -- literally, it means seeing something as it will be before it has actually happened.

Recognizing a particular image, knowing its relationship to other surrounding objects and displaying the organizational structure of a thought are all involved in spatial intelligence. Beyond that, being able to mentally foresee the various permutations and combinations of a shape have its elements shifted (i.e., like that of the famous Rubik's cube) without using trial and error methods is a perfect example of spatial reasoning and visualization.

Spatial intelligence is also referred to as “visual thinking”. A good example of visual thinking is when someone is hiking and has a compass and map. Although there is no physical path laid out before him, the hiker will use the tools to visualize and construct (mentally) an imaginary path using the maps and compass to formulate the shortest, most efficient route through the forest.

Spatial intelligence skills are essential for mastering a game such as chess or for commanding troops on a battlefield. 

When you play chess you have to use strategy and skill in not only planning your moves but anticipating what moves your opponent will make. This is where spatial intelligence comes in because this type of brain exercise lets you visualize the board several moves in advance even though the pieces haven’t been moved, or to visualize military moves (battle strategies) and possible countermeasures which the enemy may take -- and going further, thinking of the measures you would have to take with your troops if the enemy were to take those countermeasures.

Perhaps the most amazing skill of all is the ability to challenge yourself (as if you were two separate individuals, each being the other's adversary) to visualize endless moves and counter-moves based upon varying assumptions. If you were to picture this process in your mind, it might well resemble a giant decision tree, with a vast number of decision nodes [see illustration below]

With a greater number of decision nodes each leading to a greater number of possible paths, a more elaborate decision tree could be a true mind-bender.

If spatial intelligence is such a wonderful thing to have (and it is), what exercises can we do to strengthen it within ourselves? Here are some links to possibilities. I would suggest that you click on one, return to this page (for some of our viewers that means hitting the "BACK" arrow on your browsers) and click on the next. As my old math teacher (and she was rather old, at that!) used to say with a heavy German accent, "Later. Rinse. Repeat."

How To Develop Spatial Intelligence - eHow

A Conversational Thread About Improving Spatial Intelligence

Increase Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Visual -Spatial Intelligence Test

Different Types Of Spatial Intelligence And Ability

I hope that you've enjoyed being "spaced out." Please join me again for more of The Braintenance Blog. Always remember that Brain + Maintenance = Braintenance.

Douglas E. Castle

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