Peter Khooshabeh, Mary Hegarty: “Inferring cross-sections: when internal visualizations are more important than properties of external visualizations”

August 26, 2006 | Vancouver, British Columbia

Speaker: Peter Khooshabeh, Mary Hegarty
Host: 28th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2006)

Three experiments examined how cognitive abilities and qualities of external visualizations affected performance of a mental visualization task; inferring the cross-section of a complex three-dimensional (3-D) object. Experiment 1 investigated the effect of animations designed to provide different task-relevant views of the external object. Experiment 2 examined the effects of both stereoscopic and motion-based depth cues. Experiment 3 examined the effects of interactive animations, with and without stereoscopic viewing conditions. In all experiments, spatial and general reasoning abilities were measured. Effects of animation, stereopsis, and interactivity were relatively small and did not reach statistical significance. In contrast, spatial ability was significantly associated with superior performance in all experiments, and this remained true after controlling for general intelligence. The results indicate that difficulties in this task stem more from the cognitive ability to perform the relevant internal spatial transformations, than limited visual information about the three-dimensional structure of the object.