What Are Simultaneous Processing Skills?

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Coordinated actions depend on simultaneous processing skills.
Coordinated actions depend on simultaneous processing skills.

Simultaneous processes are related to the parietooccipital region of the brain. Researchers have identified this region as the location where the brain codes and stores information pertaining to the senses. Together simultaneous and successive processes enable the human brain to perceive and integrate stimuli. Successive processes operate sequential perception whereas simultaneous processes control the perception of stimuli and the integration of multiple parts into a whole. Simultaneous processing skills are necessary to a person's ability to read, write and spell.

  1. Exploring Simultaneous Processing Skills

    • In 1973, Aleksandr R. Luria proposed a theory, which outlined the brain into three functional units. The second functional unit in Luria's theory encompasses the occipital, parietal and temporal lobes. This unit is primarily responsible for the reception, analysis and storage of information at increasing levels integration and meaning. The primary levels of the occipital and parietal lobes sensor and register auditory, visual and somatic information. Following, the secondary levels transform sensations into perceptions. Eventual levels of processing fully integrate perception so that all multiple pieces of sensory information become one unit. At these higher levels, simultaneous processes enable multiple cognitive processes to occur at the same time. These processes entail the ability understand what one is reading and writing, and visualizing. Additionally, simultaneous processing allows for complex thoughts, including mental imagery and visualization techniques.

    Simultaneous Processing Skills and Reading and Writing

    • Simultaneous processing is occurring as you read this article. In terms of reading and writing, simultaneous processing allows your brain to interpret many things at once. Your brain identifies letters as words; while processing the next word, it analyzes the previous and at the same time, your brain is linking the words, sentences, phonology and semantics of text strings to create logical thoughts. In "The Role of Message Analysis in Interpretation," William Isham sums up the intricacies of simultaneous processing in stating, "A particular utterance (also to be called a "text") in any given time and place conveys many different things simultaneously. A text can be likened to a many sided crystal. Each face represents only one part of what a speaker expresses the moment the phrase or sentence is uttered, and taken alone, does not have much meaning; only by seeing the entire crystal do we fully understand the speaker's message." Simultaneous processing skills are necessary to one's ability to piece multiple strands of information into one idea.

    Simultaneous and Successive

    • The main difference between simultaneous and successive processing is that in simultaneous processing, information received is coded in a multidimensional manner, whereas in successive processing, incoming data is coded in a one-dimensional way. Successive processing links information together by ordinal links and it is involved in breaking down or analyzing information. On the other hand, simultaneous processing joins information together through unique spatial and verbal patterns to represent relations. Individuals have different levels of simultaneous and successive processing abilities. These levels vary according to the individual, their level of attention, the nature of the task and interactions between variables.

    Learning Disabilities

    • In a 1994 study conducted by Das, Naglieri & Kirby ("The Assessment of Cognitive Processes: The PASS Theory of Intelligence"), research showed that children suffering from learning disabilities involving reading, writing and spelling typically exhibited an inferior ability or inclination to use simultaneous or successive processing as compared to other children. In particular, simultaneous processing deficits result in a reduced reading and writing comprehension skills. Similarly, in spelling, the children without adequate simultaneous skills will not use mental imagery or visualization and consequently misspell words and syllables. Both the spatial and logical-grammatical dimensions of simultaneous processing play important roles in regulating information, creating perceptions and synthesizing word parts into holistic bits. Children with insufficient simultaneous skills, therefore, suffer from a lesser ability to thoroughly examine and recall stimuli.

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