There are three main types of memory: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.
Most of us are better at forming and recalling one of these types of memory. That’s why we describe some people being “visual” or “auditory” learners, meaning they can best recall information when it’s presented in imagery or as sound, respectively. There are also “kinesthetic learners” who are best at remembering the feelings associated with an event or fact.
The best learners, though, are those who use all three memory types equally: these people can attach different sensory experiences to a single memory, so they have more ways to “cling” to that memory.
Knowing what type of learner a person is can make it easier for a teacher to tailor their lessons to that individual; basketball coach Tex Winter, for example, developed individual training plans for his players based on their strongest type of memory.
Visual learners tend to synthesize and remember information faster than their counterparts; but are better at seeing things as a whole, rather than seeing the individual components of the lesson, which means they can sometimes get confused about details.
Auditory learners are better at remembering details and order, but tend to lack confidence in their ability to recall.
Kinesthetic learners have trouble with much academic learning, because it’s not suited to the physical aspect of kinesthetic memory. Though they have much better long-term memory than either visual or auditory learners. You might think of kinesthetic learning as what we call muscle memory – a pitcher who learns to throw a curveball will be able to do it over and over again for a long time. Interestingly enough, kinesthetic memory is the only one of the three that works best independently, without interference from other types of memory. For example, the more you try to think about throwing a curveball, the worse you will actually do!
Khalsa, Stauth (2001-01-01). Brain Longevity: The Breakthrough Medical Program that Improves Your Mind and Memory. Grand Central Publishing.