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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01796

Three-year-olds solved a mental rotation task above chance level, but no linear relation concerning reaction time and angular disparity presented itself.

  • 1University of Greifswald, Germany

Three-year-olds and 4-year-olds have severe difficulties solving standard mental rotation tasks. Only 5-year-olds solve such tasks above chance reliably. In contrast studies relying on simplified mental rotation tasks indicate that infants discriminate between an object and its mirror image. Furthermore in another simplified mental rotation task with 3-year-olds, a linear relation between angular disparity and reaction time typical for mental rotation was revealed. Therefore it was assumed that 3-year-olds’ capabilities are underestimated. In the current study, 3-year-olds were trained in two isolated sessions to solve standard mental rotation tasks and were tested in a third session. Three-year-olds solved this test above chance as a group - a substantial number of them doing so on an individual level. However, a linear relation between angular disparity and reaction time, that would indicate an analogue mental transformation, was not discernable. Nevertheless, these findings are in accordance with a continuous line describing mental rotation in infants and older children. And, these also indicate that children’s mental rotation capabilities might be underestimated.

Keywords: mental rotation, imagery, mental transformations, mental representations, Spatial skills, spatial cognition, infants, Early competencies, habituation

Received: 09 Nov 2017; Accepted: 04 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Natasha Kirkham, Birkbeck University of London, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Masahiro Hirai, Jichi Medical University, Japan
Larissa K. Samuelson, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2018 Krüger. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Markus Krüger, University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany, markuskr@uni-greifswald.de