Mental rotation: cross-task training and generalization.


It is well established that performance on standard mental rotation tasks improves with training (Peters et al., 1995), but thus far there is little consensus regarding the degree of transfer to other tasks which also involve mental rotation. In Experiment 1, we assessed the effect of mental rotation training on participants' Mental Rotation Test (MRT) scores. Twenty-eight participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a "One-Day Training," "Spaced Training," or "No Training" group. Participants who received training achieved higher scores on the MRT, an advantage that was still evident after 1 week. Distribution of training did not affect performance. Experiment 2 assessed generalization of mental rotation training to a more complex mental rotation task, laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgical skills were assessed using Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) tasks. Thirty-four participants were randomly assigned to a "Full Mental Rotation Training, MRT and FLS," "MRT and FLS," or "FLS-only" group. MRT results from Experiment 1 were replicated and mental rotation training was found to elicit higher scores on the MRT. Further, mental rotation training was found to generalize to certain laparoscopic surgical tasks. Participants who obtained mental rotation training performed significantly better on mental-rotation dependent surgical tasks than participants who did not receive training. Therefore, surgical training programs can use simple computer or paper-based mental rotation training instead of more expensive materials to enhance certain aspects of surgical performance of trainees.

DOI: 10.1037/a0021702

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@article{Stransky2010MentalRC, title={Mental rotation: cross-task training and generalization.}, author={Debi Stransky and Laurie M. Wilcox and Adam Dubrowski}, journal={Journal of experimental psychology. Applied}, year={2010}, volume={16 4}, pages={349-60} }