Paper in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
- Hayward WG, Zhou G, Gauthier I, Harris IM. (2006). Dissociating viewpoint costs in mental rotation and object recognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13(5), 820-825.
In a mental rotation task, participants must determine whether two stimuli match when one undergoes a rotation in 3D space relative to the other. The key evidence for mental rotation is the finding of a linear increase in response times as objects are rotated further apart. This signature increase in response times is also found in recognition of rotated objects, which has led many theorists to postulate mental rotation as a key transformational procedure in object recognition. We compared mental rotation and object recognition in tasks that used the same stimuli and presentation conditions, and found that whereas mental rotation costs increased relatively linearly with rotation, object recognition costs increased only over small rotations. Taken in conjunction with a recent brain imaging study, this dissociation in behavioral performance suggests that object recognition is based on matching of image features rather than on 3D mental transformations.