Mental Rotation of Images

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Abstract

The idea of mental imagery has always been a controversial subject in the field of psychology. Many psychologists have argued that such a concept is impossible to measure because it can not be directly observed. Though they are right about this, it is not impossible to measure how quickly mental rotations of images are processed in our brains. Subjects in this experiment were presented two shapes simultaneously, via computer screen, and asked to make judgement, as quickly as possible, as to whether the two shapes presented were the same or mirror images. Two different shapes were used in this experiment, each given as often as the other. During each trial one shape remained stationary and the other was rotated with varying amounts of 0, 60, 120, and 180 degrees. As the angle of rotation increased reaction times were calculated to see if this had any baring on the speed of the reaction. As predicted, reaction times increased along with angular disparity.

Rotation of Mental Images: Measured by Reaction Times
There are a limited number of ways to discover and understand how the human mind works and reacts to things. One can not sit and directly observe the brain and eye working together (James, Schneider & Rodgers, 1994). The concept behind mental rotation of images tries to do this by measuring reaction times as the angular disparity of an object increases. Thus, demonstrating the time it takes for the eye and brain to make a connection when presented with a stimulus. Though our experiment was solely limited to calculating reaction times to mental rotations of images, Wohlschlager and Wohlschlager (1998) took this concept one step further to see if mental object rotation and manual object rotation shared a common thought process in our brain. Wohlschlager & Wohlschlager (1998) based their ideas for this study on a theory, most impressively demonstrated by Cooper (1976), stating that the resemblance of mental rotation to external physical...
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