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Visual Thinking

Apr 16, 2021

Linguist's Perspective on Drawing


In this episode, we are exploring visual thinking and drawing in particular from the scientific point of view - Dr. Neil Cohn helps us use insights from linguistics and cognitive science to demystify misconceptions about drawing. Such misconceptions like drawing is rooted in talent, being a copycat is bad and similar - all of these are brilliantly debunked by Neil. Neil is very passionate and knowledgeable about comics and how they work and in his recent book he is challenging the idea of the universality of comics understanding and we talk about that too. Tune in to indulge your inner nerd!



Dr. Neil Cohn


Neil Cohn Ph.D. is an American cognitive scientist internationally recognized for his pioneering research on the relationship between visual communication and language.

He received his doctorate in cognitive psychology at Tufts University, and he is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Cognition and Communication at Tilburg University in The Netherlands.

Having originally started working for Image Comics as a teenager, his creative work includes illustrating We the People (with Thom Hartmann, 2004), a non-fiction graphic novel about American history and politics.

His academic monograph, The Visual Language of Comics (Bloomsbury, 2013), introduced a broad framework for studying the cognition of drawing and comics, and Who Understands Comics? (Bloomsbury, 2020) integrated 40 years of disparate scientific research to challenge conventional knowledge about the “universality” of sequential image comprehension.

His theories provided the foundation for BBC News Labs’ automatically generated news comics, and several of his proposed emoji will be integrated into keyboards in 2021.

He is on Twitter at @visual_linguist, and his work can be found on his website, 





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