Mental rotation training: transfer and maintenance effects on spatial abilities
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One of the aims of research in spatial cognition is to examine whether spatial skills can be enhanced. The goal of the present study was thus to assess the benefit and maintenance effects of mental rotation training in young adults. Forty-eight females took part in the study: 16 were randomly assigned to receive the mental rotation training (based on comparing pairs of 2D or 3D objects and rotation games), 16 served as active controls (performing parallel non-spatial activities), and 16 as passive controls. Transfer effects to both untrained spatial tasks (testing both object rotation and perspective taking) and visual and verbal tasks were examined. Across the training sessions, the group given mental rotation training revealed benefits in the time it took to make judgments when comparing 3D and 2D objects, but their mental rotation speed did not improve. When compared with the other groups, the mental rotation training group did show transfer effects, however, in tasks other than those practiced (i.e., in object rotation and perspective-taking tasks), and these benefits persisted after 1 month. The training had no effect on visual or verbal tasks. These findings are discussed from the spatial cognition standpoint and with reference to the (rotation) training literature.
The authors wish to thank Francesco Ferrari and Antonio Di Maggio for helping to collect the data.
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