Content Manager & Science Writer
Content Manager & Science Writer
Studies show that verbal information is inferior compared to visual information. Visual reminders are much more effective than verbal, as visual reminders are both more memorable and increases the attention span.
As it turns out, our brain stores information in very different ways depending on the type of information it is exposed to. Audio information is stored in one way - think of it as a more temporary to fleeting way - while visual information is stored entirely differently. It is stored in a much better way - a way that makes a visual memory much easier to recall.
Can you recall the last time you forgot something? Maybe it was the last time someone told you a phone number and before you could say it a few times over in your head or write it down, you briefly got distracted by something.. and PFFT! It’s gone, without any trace of its existence in your mind. We all forget stuff from time to time. Either we don’t pay attention, we get distracted or have a million other things in our mind. But for people with ADHD, who already have attention span difficulties, memory and recalling stuff can be quite the quest in their daily lives.
A study from the 1970s demonstrates that subjects, exposed to 2.560 items for 10 seconds, were able to recall more than 90% or over 2.000 items (1). Another study examining the auditory recognition memory presented subjects with 96 distinctive 5-seconds sound clips from a broad range of sources, i.e. birds chirping, a coffee shop, motorcycles, etc. The subjects first listened to a session of 64 sound clips before immediately moving on to the next session, listening to another 64 sound clips, half new clips and half clips from the first session. The subjects were asked to indicate whether the sound clips were old or new. The hit rate was 78% with a false alarm rate of 20% (2). To put this study in perspective, another study with 600 images yielded a hit rate of 98% (3). So if your child tends to forget what you have told to do - or maybe you yourself struggle with remembering what others have told you - then there is a perfect natural reason for this. It is simply the lack of visual stimuli.
These above findings, demonstrating the superiority of visual information, are the reason why emojis are incorporated in the assistive tool, Tiimo app, in order to support people with cognitive challenges. With images or emojis, the reminders from Tiimo will likely be both remembered better and acted upon quicker. People with ADHD tend to have a fleeting mind or selective attention span, and therefore either tend to forget stuff or have trouble maintaining focus on a task at hand. Visual images and accompanying explanatory text can increase the processing of a task, recall of it and promote focus. The same goes for people on the autistic spectrum who often communicate by the use of pictograms in a variety of situations (5)
However, that some people with autism use pictograms and are able to associate the image with certain situations, like putting on clothes, does not mean that the individual actually understands what the image is displaying or representing. Professionals working closely with people with Autism believe that some don't understand the picture, but understand and memorize a certain combination of colors. This belief is derived from observations where people with Autism do not recognize an image if it has suffered the smallest alteration in shade of color, outline or size (5).
With Tiimo app, our users and/or their caregivers are able to use emojis, colors and own pictures in order to communicate in the best possible way. This hereby conveys much stronger cues or reminders, accompanied by text and visuals images, emojis or pictures.
This not only improves the users' visual memory but also increases the attention span for each activity or reminder - which are two important factors for people with ADHD or Autism who can struggle with focusing or remembering. In particular, our emojis have been welcomed by our users - making the reminders more human, fun and humorous.