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Titrating decision processes in the mental rotation task


Provost, A and Heathcote, A, Titrating decision processes in the mental rotation task, Psychological Review, 122, (4) pp. 735-754. ISSN 0033-295X (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2015 American Psychological Association

DOI: doi:10.1037/a0039706


Shepard and Metzler's (1971) seminal mental-rotation task-which requires participants to decide if 1 object is a rotated version of another or its mirror image-has played a central role in the study of spatial cognition. We provide the first quantitative model of behavior in this task that is comprehensive in the sense of simultaneously providing an account of both error rates and the full distribution of response times. We used Brown and Heathcote's (2008) model of choice processing to separate out the contributions of mental rotation and decision stages. This model-based titration process was applied to data from a paradigm where converging evidence supported performance being based on rotation rather than other strategies. Stimuli were similar to Shepard and Metzler's block figures except a long major axis made rotation angle well defined for mirror stimuli, enabling comprehensive modeling of both mirror and normal responses. Results supported a mental rotation stage based on Larsen's (2014) model, where rotation takes a variable amount of time with a mean and variance that increase linearly with rotation angle. Differences in response threshold differences were largely responsible for mirror responses being slowed, and for errors increasing with rotation angle for some participants.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:mental rotation, LBA, cognitive model
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Decision making
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Heathcote, A (Professor Andrew Heathcote)
ID Code:103364
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:17
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2015-10-07
Last Modified:2018-03-20

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