The learning experts call them modalities. You probably call them senses. They are the five common senses with which we experience our world. The ways in which the senses are related to our short and long term memories constitute our natural learning modalities. This article will clarify how modalities are the pathways for learning; then it will help you identify your preferred modalities and finally it will give you concrete ways to learn faster by using your modalities consciously.

Modality generally refers to our hard wiring: how our nervous system brings information in, links that information to what we already know and allows us to bring the knowledge out and use it.

The visual modality refers to what we see and images we remember. Auditory refers to what we hear: how things sound. Kinesthetic refers to knowing through touch or by doing. Olfactory indicates smell (our most acute and least used sense). Gustatory refers to taste.

As infants, we are all pretty much kinesthetic/gustatory; we learn by putting things in our mouth. This being violently discouraged by adults we quickly learn to learn through our eyes and ears. We put less faith in our feelings or the tastes left in our mouths as ways of learning or judging.

You'll know you're visual if you need pictures to understand ideas and concepts. Visual people think in pictures. They are likely to accompany their speech with visuals. They may talk fast and use words like “picture”, “see”, “glimpse”, “shape”, “looks” etc.

If you're a visual, you'll do well to look for and create pictures, charts, maps, diagrams. Color chapters in your texts. Take notes in different colors. Use collages, painting and drawing to study. To review, close your eyes and see what you remember.

The auditory folks tune into rhythm, pace, tone and pitch. They remember how things sound and may translate learning into rap or poetry. They are often musical and speak in more modulated tones. Auditories do well with tape recorders, lectures and discussion. Playing specific types of music in the background while learning can make it go fast and be fun. Making rhyming or cutesy sounding lists will help the auditory remember well.

The kinesthetic people speak the slowest. They are feeling their way through life and often cannot learn unless they are doing something. They say, “I get it.” when they understand, and “That doesn't fit.” when they don't.

Kinesthetics need to move! If you're one, take BIG notes and always imagine yourself doing something with the material you are learning. If possible, skip the books and lectures and go directly to the action required to use what you're learning.

We are all olfactory as smell is the sense that connects with long-term memory. You smell fresh baked bread and are IN grandma's kitchen. Take advantage of this by using different spices in various chapters of your text or carry a fragrant teabag to your next lecture. Peppermint is always good.

Since learning is, in part, bringing something into ourselves, eating can support rapid acquisition of information as well as calories. The key here, as with smell, is to create a solid and discreet association between a taste and something we want to integrate cognitively, experientially, emotionally or imaginatively. Use mints while learning a new program, butterscotch when learning to budget, chocolate when studying new regulations.

All the above methods work as “jumping-off places” to creative and rapid learning. Just by focusing on “How DO I learn?” you'll get faster and have more fun. The sweet smell of success will be in the air wafting in the breeze, which blows the rustling leaves warmly against your skin.

For many more amazing ways to access and build your five senses, ten intelligences and five cognitive types, check out: “Easy Genius: Awakening Your Whole Brain to Build a More Powerful Memory” available at

Author's Bio: 

Chance Massaro MA and Steve Wallis MA have decades of experience helping people to improve memories and intelligences so that they can lead more successful lives - and have more fun in the process. Their work with whole-brain learning has made them popular with all kinds of people - including parents, teens, elderly, job seekers, those interested in health and education - who are all learning more about themselves and the ways that they can be more successful in the world. From intelligence to creativity, activity, emotions and beyond, find out about their collaborative consulting work, accelerated learning or just making better lesson plans: