The Engineering Design Graphics Journal, Vol 82, No 3 (2018)

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Spatial Working Memory and Neural Efficiency in Mental Rotations: An Insight from Pupillometry

Jeffrey Buckley, Donal Canty, David White, Niall Seery, Mark Campbell


Spatial ability, particularly the cognitive capacity for mental rotations, is a critical component of human cognition. Proficiency with mental rotation tasks is linked with educational performance in various Sci¬ence, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and with more general tasks such as real world wayfinding. Spatial working memory (SWM) is posited as a fundamental psychological con¬struct associated with mental rotation ability. Through the adoption of pupillometry, this study aspired to investigate the potential role of SWM within mental rotation performance. The results of this study unex¬pectedly illustrated that mental effort decreased as item difficulty increased. It is posited that learning may have occurred during the initial easier tasks facilitating an increased efficiency in cognitive processing associated with SWM storage during the more difficult mental rotations tasks.

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The Engineering Design Graphics Journal serves as the official journal of the American Society for Engineering Education, Engineering Design Graphics Division and provides a professional publication for educators and industry personnel associated with activities in engineering, technology, descriptive geometry, CAD, and any research related to visualization and design.

Manuscripts submitted for publication are subject to peer review by the EDG Journal editorial review board. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or the views of the EDGD.