Audio-sequential, or Visual-spatial?

For some years, the two predominant learning styles were referred to as “left brain” and “right brain”, because they resembled the brain functions that were presumed to be associated with one hemisphere or the other.

However, within each hemisphere are various functions. In fact, we use all of our brains in an interactive way with virtually every task we perform. Yet, there does seem to be a clear grouping of characteristics that reflect individual differences in thinking and learning styles, and these styles have been relabeled auditory-sequential and visual-spatial learning styles.

These two different styles provide a powerful way of looking at fundamental difference in how people think, learn, solve problems, and even understand or interact with one another.


  • Thinks primarily using words, learns phonics easily.
  • Prefers auditory explanations.
  • Processes information and tasks sequentially.
  • Prefers to learn facts and details, likes specific instructions.
  • Deals with one task at a time in a linear, orderly process.
  • Prefers structure and is well-organized; prefers proper working materials and setting
  • Is an analytical thinker, logically deduces implications.
  • Prefers solving existing problems.
  • Prefers concrete tasks that have one correct answer.
  • Approaches most situations in a serious manner.


  • Thinks primarily in images and prefers seeing tasks demonstrated.
  • Prefers visual explanations.
  • Processes information holistically; prefers seeing the overview prior to details.
  • Prefers abstract thinking tasks; likes general goals and directions.
  • Prefers handling several tasks at a time, or multi-tasking.
  • Prefers open, fluid situations; creates own structure; often improvises; looks for patterns.
  • Prefers synthesizing activities; produces ideas intuitively.
  • Prefers solving novel or self-generated problems.
  • Prefers concepts; better at reasoning than at computation.
  • Approaches problems playfully.

Most people relate more to one or the other of the two thinking styles, though some report that they have characteristics of both styles. When someone has extreme preference for one style, it can create problems for them.

Which thinking style is better?

Both have certain advantages depending upon their task. The characteristics of gifted children and the concept of a preferred learning style have definite implications for families and for school. Another important dimension for understanding gifted children is the concept of “overexcitabilities“.

Parts of this article are excerpts from A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children . You may view/purchase it from clicking on the link.

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