Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 62, Issue 7, pp 1356–1366 | Cite as

Rotating objects to determine orientation, not identity: Evidence from a backward-masking/dual-task procedure

  • Stefano A. De Caro
  • Adam ReevesEmail author


The effects of picture-plane rotations on times taken to name familiar objects (RTs) may reflect a process of mental rotation to stored viewpoint-specific representations: therotate-to-recognize hypothesis. Alternatively, mental rotation might be used after stored object representations are activated by a misoriented stimulus in order to verify a weak or distorted shape percept: thedouble-checking hypothesis. We tested these two accounts of rotation effects in object recognition by having subjects verify the orientations (to within 90°) and basic-level names of 14-msec, backward-masked depictions of common objects. The stimulus-mask interval (SOA) varied from 14 to 41 msec, permitting interpolation of the SOA required for 75% accuracy (SOAc). Whereas the SOAc to verify orientation increased with rotation up to 180°, the SOAc to verify identity was briefer and asymptoted at ∼60°. We therefore reject the rotate-to-recognize hypothesis, which implies that SOAc should increase steadily with rotation in both tasks. Instead, we suggest that upright and near-upright stimuli are matched by a fast direct process and that misoriented stimuli are matched at a featural level by a slightly slower view-independent process. We also suggest that rotation effects on RTs reflect apostrecognition stage of orientation verification: therotate-to-orient hypothesis, a version of double-checking that also explains the well-known reduction in orientation effects on RTs when naming repeated objects.


Stimulus Onset Asynchrony Object Recognition Mental Rotation Object Naming Picture Plane 
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

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNortheastern UniversityBoston

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