Training Generalized Spatial Skills

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Training Generalized Spatial Skills

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Title: Training Generalized Spatial Skills
Author: Thompson, William; Kosslyn, Stephen; Newcombe, Nora S.; Ganis, Giorgio; Wright, Rebecca

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Citation: Wright, Rebecca, William L. Thompson, Giorgio Ganis, Nora S. Newcombe, and Stephen M. Kosslyn. 2008. Training generalized spatial skills. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 15, no. 4: 763-771.
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Abstract: Spatial transformation skills are an essential aspect of cognitive ability. These skills can be improved by practice, but such improvement has usually been specific to tasks and stimuli. The present study investigated whether intensive long-term practice leads to change that transcends stimulus and task parameters. Thirty-one participants (14 male, 17 female) were tested on three cognitive tasks: a computerized version of the Shepard-Metzler (1971) mental rotation task (MRT), a mental paper-folding task (MPFT), and a verbal analogies task (VAT). Each individual then participated in daily practice sessions with the MRT or the MPFT over 21 days. Postpractice comparisons revealed transfer of practice gains to novel stimuli for the practiced task, as well as transfer to the other, nonpracticed spatial task. Thus, practice effects were process based, not instance based. Improvement in the nonpracticed spatial task was greater than that in the VAT; thus, improvement was not merely due to greater ease with computerized testing.
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