Psychological Research

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 415–431 | Cite as

The role of practice and strategy in mental rotation training: transfer and maintenance effects

  • Chiara MeneghettiEmail author
  • Ramona Cardillo
  • Irene C. Mammarella
  • Sara Caviola
  • Erika Borella
Original Article


Research in the domain of spatial abilities is now focusing on whether spatial abilities can be trained, and whether this can produce gains and maintenance effects in other, untrained skills. The aim of the present study was to assess the benefit and maintenance effects of two types of mental rotation training, one based on mental rotation practice alone, the other combining mental rotation practice with the use of a spatial (rotation) strategy. Seventy-two females took part in the study: 24 practiced with a rotation task that involved comparing pairs of 3D objects [the mental rotation (MR) group], 24 were taught to use the rotation strategy while practicing with the rotation task [the strategy + mental rotation (S + MR) group], and 24 were involved in parallel non-spatial activities (the active control group). Transfer effects were sought on both untrained spatial tasks (testing object rotation and perspective taking) and fluid ability tasks; self-reported strategy use was also examined. Our results showed short-term benefits and maintenance effects in the MR and the S + MR groups in terms of their accuracy in both the MR tasks considered (a 3D same/different task, and the Mental Rotations Test). The S + MR group was more accurate at follow-up than at post-test in both MR tasks, and reported using the rotation strategy in association with the tasks; this group was also more accurate at follow-up than at pre-test in the perspective-taking and fluid intelligence tasks. These findings are discussed from the spatial cognition standpoint and with reference to the (rotation) training literature.


Mental Rotation Spatial Ability Spatial Task Active Control Group Mental Rotation Task 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chiara Meneghetti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ramona Cardillo
    • 2
  • Irene C. Mammarella
    • 2
  • Sara Caviola
    • 2
  • Erika Borella
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Developmental and Social PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly

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