Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development, states that we remember visuals better than text because they are processed in our long-term memory.
“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2)… images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”
But not just any image will do. At the 2014 International Visual Literacy Association conference (see video below), Dr. Burmark noted that the image used should be relevant to the subject. Burmark also noted that ‘vision trumps the other senses’; there are 1 million fibers from each eye to the brain, and only 30,000 fibers from each ear to the brain, asking the audience ‘which do you think is more powerful?’
Pictures can help us learn more easily and deeply. And, we process and remember imagery more rapidly than text (according to Burmark, humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text). Burmark also noted that visual recall depends on have seen the image, or a similar image, previously:
“Words can only recall images we have already seen… if you don’t have an image for the words, then you can’t understand the words!”
There are just a few reasons why most if not all blog posts, website content and social media posts should be accompanied by a relevant image.