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Anatomical limitations in mental transformations of body parts

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Two experiments investigated whether possible and impossible body postures influence mental rotation processes differently considering that anatomical limitations constrain the way in which subjects perform mental transformations of body parts. In Experiment 1, mental rotation was performed on two stimuli presented simultaneously. Both possible and impossible body postures elicited mental rotation, although the mental rotation rate was slower for impossible postures. In Experiment 2, only one stimulus was presented at a time and subjects decided whether it represented a correct body-part configuration or not. A typical mental rotation function was only present for correct body-part configurations. The results are discussed in terms of the familiarity of the stimuli. Unfamiliar stimuli (physically impossible) are rotated via local representations of their parts, whilst global representations are used for rotating familiar (anatomically correct) stimuli.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2005


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