Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Number form

The brain sure is a mysterious thing. We can go pleasantly along throughout our lives thinking that the perfectly normal ways in which we make sense of the world are the same ways everyone else does, only come to find out that hardly anyone does it that way. Seeing number forms is one of those instances. When I happened upon that blog post today, I said a big "ah ha!" because I had tried Googling what I see before, but to no avail. I mean, how do you google, "sees numbers in brain"? If only I had thought to search on "sees number line," I might have happened upon the Wiki page.

But I didn't know before how to name what I was seeing because what I see is not so much a line as a... I don't even know what to call it. Yes, it is a line, but I move along it. There are distinct corners at 100, 1000, 2000, and 1970. It's hard to map it out two-dimensionally because I don't know what viewpoint to do it from. I see it from above as if I'm flying directly over it.

The line itself is sort of a nothingness on a black background. It's like looking into a void where just the numbers are. I don't really like it in there. Surprise, surprise, I'm not a fan of math at all. 

The reason the number line actually causes me trouble with math is the corners. Numbers between 1 and 100 are easy. (The bend at 20 doesn't cause a problem for some reason.) I can figure out 72 minus 37 pretty quickly. But 137 minus 72? So much harder because in my mind I have to turn the corner of 100.

Same goes for figuring out how long ago something happened if it happened before 2000. There is such a distinct corner at the year 2000. It's similar to the one at 100.

Wow, describing this really does sound crazy! 

I included an image of a calendar year in the drawing as well because I also "see" that, but I'm not sure if it's the same thing.Along with the seasons, I picture the names of the months and their weather and the holidays.

So, how do you see numbers, if you see them at all? If you don't see them, can you explain what that's like? I can't imagine NOT seeing them!

I wonder if this is related: To learn and retain a new word, I need to know how it's spelled. In other words, I need to be able to visualize the placement of the letters before it will make sense to me.

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