Dissociating object-based from egocentric transformations in mental body rotation: effect of stimuli size

Exp Brain Res. 2018 Jan;236(1):275-284. doi: 10.1007/s00221-017-5125-y. Epub 2017 Nov 11.


The effect of stimuli size on the mental rotation of abstract objects has been extensively investigated, yet its effect on the mental rotation of bodily stimuli remains largely unexplored. Depending on the experimental design, mentally rotating bodily stimuli can elicit object-based transformations, relying mainly on visual processes, or egocentric transformations, which typically involve embodied motor processes. The present study included two mental body rotation tasks requiring either a same-different or a laterality judgment, designed to elicit object-based or egocentric transformations, respectively. Our findings revealed shorter response times for large-sized stimuli than for small-sized stimuli only for greater angular disparities, suggesting that the more unfamiliar the orientations of the bodily stimuli, the more stimuli size affected mental processing. Importantly, when comparing size transformation times, results revealed different patterns of size transformation times as a function of angular disparity between object-based and egocentric transformations. This indicates that mental size transformation and mental rotation proceed differently depending on the mental rotation strategy used. These findings are discussed with respect to the different spatial manipulations involved during object-based and egocentric transformations.

Keywords: Egocentric transformations; Mental rotation; Mental size transformations; Motor processes.; Object-based transformations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Size Perception / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult