The Effect of Landmark Features on Mental Rotation Times

This experiment is based on the following paper:

Hochberg, J. and Gellman, L. (1977). The effect of landmark features on mental rotation times. Memory and Cognition, 5, 23-26. Reprinted by permission of Psychonomic Society, Inc.


Shepard and his colleagues (1971, 1973) proposed a method to measure one aspect of visual imagery - the “mental rotation” of objects. In their task, a subject examined two shapes to determine if they are the same or different, making this judgment by mentally rotating one of shapes. They proposed that the mental process is analogous to physical rotation and that it takes place at a set rate. Hochberg and Gellman write:
As the angle between orientations of two shapes is increased, subjects who have been trained in “mental rotation” take longer to decide that the shapes are the same and not mirror images of each other. Because Shepard and his colleagues have found that the time/angle function is always monotonic and often remarkably linear for a variety of tasks and circumstances, they argue that the task is performed by means of an underlying “analog” process, proceeding at a rate of approximately 60 deg/sec. (p.23)Shephard had varied the complexity of the shapes to be rotated, but the features were not matched for orientation and location. Hochberg and Gellman proposed that landmarks or “cues to location and orientation that are unique and visible from a distance” may be a critical factor in mental rotation performance.
To be useful in the mental rotation task, a landmark feature must either provide direct information about orientation, even when it falls in peripheral vision, or must indicate where the subject will find such information by directing his fovea to the landmark’s
vicinity. (p.23) This experiment was designed to vary stimulus complexity according to the
landmark model.


The full text describing the experiment is available here.

The experiments are available below. (193 KB) (245 KB)

do you have the shepard mental rotation question

HI…do you have the shepard mental rotation questions?