Combining pictures with print or audio generally maximizes learning

I still can’t find any research in support of the claim that “humans process pictures 60 000 times faster than text.”


I have found several papers that support the statement that “combining pictures with print or audio generally [maximizes] learning”. This is a direct quote from Gwen C. Nugent’s article “Pictures, audio, and print: symbolic representation and effect on learning” published in Educational Technology Research and Development, Volume 30, Number 3 (1982), 163-174


This also appears to be supported in Malcolm L. Fleming’s article “On pictures in educational research” published in Instructional Science, Volume 8, Number 3 (1979), 235-251.


Dr. John Medina, in his book Brain Rules talks about the Pictorial Superiority Effect (page 233-234), he writes: “If information is presented orally, people remember about 10%, tested 72 hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65% if you add a picture.”


There’s lots of stuff online about the Pictorial Superiority Effect, it turned out to be the key search term. or phrase, for me in my research. The learning gains are nowhere near 60 000 times greater but the use of images closely related to the text displayed and/or spoken consistently lead to measurable learning gains. Moving pictures, animations, seem to be even better than static images.


One paper that seems to be important vis a vis the Pictorial Superiority Effect is “Pictorial superiority effect.” by Nelson, Douglas L.; Reed, Valerie S.; Walling, John R. published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, Vol 2(5), Sep 1976, 523-528. You can buy it for $12 online here:


or just read the abstract for free.


Here’s a short video explaining the Pictorial Superiority Effect



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