The role of mental rotation and age in spatial perspective-taking tasks: when age does not impair perspective-taking performance



The relationship between self-evaluation of sense of direction, mental rotation, and performance in map learning and pointing tasks has been investigated in a life-span perspective. Study 1 compared younger and older people in the Mental Rotation Test (MRT) and on the Sense of Direction and Spatial Representation (SDSR) Scale. Older people achieved higher scores on the SDSR Scale, but a lower performance in MRT compared with younger participants. In Study 2, groups of younger and older adults, one of each, were matched in the MRT, and pointing tasks in aligned and counter-aligned perspectives were administered. Our results showed that, when so matched, older participants performed better than the younger counterparts in perspective-taking tasks, but their performance was worse in map learning. Aligned pointing was performed better than the counter-aligned task in both age groups, showing an alignment effect. Furthermore the performance in the counter-aligned pointing was significantly correlated with MRT scores. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.