Month: February 2024

How Does Vision Affect Behavior?

How Does Vision Affect Behavior?

Vision plays a pivotal role in shaping our behavior, influencing how we interact with and respond to the world around us. With approximately 80% of sensory input being visual, our perception of the environment profoundly impacts our actions and reactions.


There are two types of visual pathways focal and ambient:

  • Focal visionvisual attention to the “what”; central vision; focus on an object of interest; creates visual perception; requires efficient eye teaming (clear focus on image with both eyes simultaneously); active/conscious skill 
  • Ambient vision: visual attention to the “where”; peripheral fields; creates spatial map of where our body is in relation to objects in our environment; assists with creating stability; inactive/unconscious skill

Perception leads to > prediction leads to > brain function: fight, flight, freeze or rest and digest response: 

  • Perception: the active process of bringing meaning to an object; creates prediction for motor responses
  • Prediction: expectation of events not yet to come 
  • Fight, Flight, Freeze: The body’s stress/fear response
  • Rest and Digest: The body’s calm/resting state

If there are deficits in visual function, deficits in visual perception occur which can lead to unpredictability and emotional instability 

  • Children with developmental delays are commonly found to have deficits in visual function 
  • Developmental obstacles disrupt critical voluntary and reflexive muscle responses and mental processes which impact behavior 
  • When the brain perceives danger, fight or flight responses are activated 


What Can We Do to Help?

An Occupational Therapist can:

  • Provide analysis on vision, somatosensory and vestibular (sensory) function
  • Create multi-sensory interventions to rewire and fire neural responses 
  • Identify specific deficits and implement a treatment plan and suggestions for home
  • Educate children and families on calming strategies to de-escalate aversive behaviors 
  • Facilitate fine/visual motor activities such as building with blocks, stringing beads, blowing bubbles, hitting a balloon, and more!

Written By: Jamie Blough, COTA