Swanandi Gawde, M.Optom, B.Optom, PGDOVS, ADCR

Optometry Faculty, ITM Institute, Navi Mumbai, India


Visual memory is the retrieval of previously seen objects from the visual environment and the interpretation of visual data. In the process of visual memory, all parts of the body and brain contribute. Visual memory includes all parts of the eye, optic nerve, and several areas of the brain. People use visual memory to perform daily life activities easily.

Visual imagery involves constructing a representation of short-term memory, which is the experience of seeing with the mind’s eye. Visual memory and visual imagery are controlled by largely overlapping neural substances in both frontal-parietal controlled regions and occipital-temporal sensory regions of the brain. (1) 

Visual imagery is how people think using visual, image-like internal mental representations. Visual imagery involves taking inputs from visual perception. Visual memory is like looking at a task and mentally manipulating a given image or creating an image in the mind by reading text, such as ‘Visualise a fuzzy yellow kitten.’ In visual memory, item identification and item special position can be associated with the activation of preferential ‘what’ and ‘where’ pathways. The ventral-temporal cortex and dorsal-Parietal cortex stream are activated during visual perception. (2)

The human visual memory process includes three steps: encoding, storage, and retrieval of visual information. (3) Encoding is the process through which information is learned. It includes four methods –

  1. Visual encoding (how something looks)
  2. Acoustic encoding (how something sounds)
  3. Semantic encoding (what something means) and
  4. Tactile encoding (how something feels). (4)

Storage refers to how, where, how much, and for how long encoded information is retained within the memory system. It has two types: short-term and long-term memory. The encoded information is stored in short-term memory and then transferred to long-term memory. Retrieval is the process of accessing information from the stored memory. Short-term memory is retrieved in the order in which it is stored, while long-term memory is retrieved through association. (5)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the term used to describe the use of computers and technology to simulate intelligent behavior and critical thinking comparable to that of a human being. (6) The fast visual recognition memory systems can be used with artificial intelligence image recognition technologies to create intelligent systems that can quickly and accurately identify objects and actions. Artificial intelligence image recognition helps to analyse images faster and is used in various applications, including object and facial recognition, medical image analysis, and security systems. In ophthalmic investigations and medical report analysis, image recognition plays a major role.

Artificial intelligence techniques can handle significant amounts of data more efficiently, working similarly to how humans store data in the brain. AI technologies are used in ophthalmology to save thousands of eye photos and categorise them into those that show a healthy eye and those that show a diseased eye using an algorithm. Additionally, AI technology can detect whether a patient has an eye disease condition right away when a photo of their eye is entered, as well as determine the severity of the disease. (7)

Thanks to this AI technology, identifying eye diseases can now be accomplished quickly, within seconds, facilitating early treatment. This advancement helps maintain patients’ visual acuity and contributes to reducing the worldwide incidence of blindness.



  1. Kosslyn, S. M., Ganis, G., & Thompson, W. L. (2001). Neural foundations of imagery. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2, 635–642.
  2. Moscovitch, M., Kapur, S., Köhler, S., & Houle, S. (1995). Distinct neural correlates of visual long-term memory for spatial location and object identity: A positron emission tomography study in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 92, 3721-3725.
  3. Wazir, A., Sya’ban, S. N., & Horneffer, P. Understanding Memory to Enhance Learning in Medical Education.
  4. Brown, P.C., Roediger, H.L. & McDaniel, M.A. 2014. Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  5. Roediger, H.L. & McDermott, K.B. 1995. Creating false memories: Remembering words not presented in lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 21(4):803
  6. Amisha, Malik P, Pathania M, Rathaur VK. Overview of artificial intelligence in medicine. J Family Med Prim Care. 2019 Jul;8(7):2328-2331.
  7. Gheorghe, C. M. (2023). AI-based technology in Ophthalmology: the key to the future. Romanian Journal of Ophthalmology, 67(4), 325.