Mental rotation is not easily cognitively penetrable

Grégoire Borst, Rogier A. Kievit, William L. Thompson, Stephen M. Kosslyn
2011 Journal of Cognitive Psychology  
When participants take part in mental imagery experiments, are they using their "tacit knowledge" of perception to mimic what they believe should occur in the corresponding perceptual task? Two experiments were conducted to examine whether such an account can be applied to mental imagery in general. These experiments both examined tasks that required participants to "mentally rotate" stimuli. In Experiment 1, instructions led participants to believe that they could re-orient shapes in one step
more » ... shapes in one step or avoid re-orienting the shapes altogether. Regardless of instruction type, response times increased linearly with increasing rotation angles. In Experiment 2, participants first observed novel objects rotating at different speeds, and then performed a mental rotation task with those objects. The speed of perceptually demonstrated rotation did not affect the speed of mental rotation. We argue that tacit knowledge cannot explain mental imagery results in general, and that in particular the mental rotation effect reflects the nature of the underlying internal representation and processes that transform it, rather than participants' pre-existing knowledge.
doi:10.1080/20445911.2011.454498 fatcat:unkdyjgbsjacdjzt4lt4ecjgpi