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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 rotation, calls for a mental process that mimics external physical rotation. However, it is pointed out that there is a principal difference between motion perception and mental rotation. Whereas motion perception is a rather automatic process, mental rotation is strategic and shares some characteristics with voluntary actions (Wohlschlager & Wohlschlager, 1998).
In conducting their experim...

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... 4, and 3 & 4, we see no statistical significance at all. The difference in rotational degrees was not as large between these groups.
Another aspect of the results that I would like to point out is that our experiment only used 10 subjects, who were not randomly picked. Only 20 subjects were used in the experiment conducted by Desrocher, smith & Taylor (1995). I don’t feel that these numbers of subjects (20 and 10) are enough to have conclusive results. In order to get an accurate sample of the population more participants should have been used in both experiments. This one fact may have been the reason why part of the results of Desrocher, smith & Taylor (1995) were not concurrent with other findings.
Although the objectives of the two experiments I discussed were different, result were the same regardless as to what the differences might have been. In all experiment including the one I did, results were concurrent. Findings supported the hypothesis that was set forth: As angular rotation increased, reaction time will also increase. Thus, showing reaction times do serve as an appropriate method for analyzing how quickly the brain reacts to mental rotations of images.
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