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Tachistoscope Method - Photographic Memory Training Using Flash Cards


Electronic tachistoscope with dot flash cards

Do you know the use of flash cards for Speed Reading and Photographic Memory training go back as far as the late 1930s?

This is possible with the invention of the tachistoscope.

You will notice the similarity of this right brain training method and theory with the right brain education/training for babies and toddlers.


What is a tachistoscope?

It came from "Tachistos", which means very rapid, and "skopein" means a visual instrument/screen that flashes images.

This device flashes a series of images on to a screen at a rapid speed to test visual perception, memory, and learning. It uses a slide projector equipped with a mechanical shutter system like a camera.

It is capable of projecting "flashcard" images as fast as 2 seconds to 0.01 seconds per image.


It can be used to increase recognition speed, to show something too fast to be consciously recognized, or to test which elements of an image are memorable.


Alfred Wilhelm Volkmann

The first tachistoscope was originally described by German physiologist Alfred Wilhelm Volkmann in 1859 although he had already been using the device for some years. He specialized in the nervous and optic system.

Samuel Renshaw with his Tachistoscope

How was this device used?

Tachistoscopic training was done during the World War 2 era. Samuel Renshaw (1892 - 1981) who was an Amerian psychologist, whose work became famous when he taught sailors and the Arm Forces to identify enemy aircraft in a split second.

The technique involves showing flashcard images of planes (a few hundredths of a second per image) they have to recognize on to a screen.

The training was known as the "Renshaw Training System for Aircraft and Ship Recognition".

Upon completion of the program, officers could identify more types of planes and ships with greater accuracy and with faster recognition time. He continued further to train people to speed read using his method.


Tachistoscopic training is also known as FRT (Flash Recognition Training). Today FRT program is being used in the training of military and law enforcement professionals.


Based on the Tachistoscope Principle training method, where accurate visual and rapid speed is presented, the brain is able to recognize the image and is embedded in the subconscious mind of the child. The child is then able to recall the information from his subconscious mind and learning will be easy for the child.


Tachistoscopes were used during the late 1960s in public schools as an aid to increased reading comprehension for speed reading. There were two types: the student would look through a lens similar to an aircraft bombsight viewfinder and read letters, words, and phrases using manually advanced slide film. The second type of projected words and phrases on a screen in sequence. Both types were followed up with comprehension and vocabulary testing.


When you teach your baby or toddler using flash cards in right brain education, accuracy and speed are vital.


The right brain works faster than the left brain. The left brain works with analytical skills and logic while the right brain does not. Below is a chart on how the left and right brain functions.

You can also discover the types of right brain flash cards that you can use to teach your baby/toddler at home.


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