Effects of gender, imagery ability, and sports practice on the performance of a mental rotation task

Am J Psychol. 2014 Fall;127(3):313-23. doi: 10.5406/amerjpsyc.127.3.0313.


Mental rotation is one of the main spatial abilities necessary in the spatial transformation of mental images and the manipulation of spatial parameters. Researchers have shown that mental rotation abilities differ between populations depending on several variables. This study uses a mental rotation task to investigate effects of several factors on the spatial abilities of 277 volunteers. The results demonstrate that high and low imagers performed equally well on this tasks. Athletes outperformed nonathletes regardless of their discipline, and athletes with greater expertise outperformed those with less experience. The results replicate the previously reported finding that men exhibit better spatial abilities than women. However, with high amounts of practice, the women in the current study were able to perform as well as men.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Male
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Rotation
  • Sex Factors
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Sports / physiology
  • Young Adult