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


  • Jeffrey Buckley KTH Royal Institute of Technology Athlone Institute of Technology
  • Donal Canty University of Limerick
  • David White University of Limerick
  • Niall Seery Athlone Institute of Technology
  • Mark Campbell University of Limerick


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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