Development of Spatial Ability Tests
Our research has demonstrated individual differences in visualization abilities; i.e., dissociation between object and spatial visual abilities (Kozhevnikov, Kosslyn, & Shephard, 2005), and a further distinction between spatial allocentric and spatial egocentric abilities (Kozhevnikov & Hegarty, 2001). Although allocentric and egocentric spatial abilities are correlated, they were also found to have distinguishable characteristics and showed different relationships to real world performance (Kozhevnikov, Motes, Rasch, & Blajenkova, 2006; Kozhevnikov & Hegarty, 2001; Kozhevnikov, Blazhenkova, & Becker, 2010).
Our lab has developed unique tests for assessing egocentric mental transformation ability, the 2D and 3D Perspective-Taking test, which reliably predict spatial navigation performance (i.e., spatial navigation and orientation). This Test is currently used for testing the spatial abilities of navigators, pilots and, also, in Man-Vehicle Laboratory at MIT for predicting astronauts’ spatial orientation skills.
Perspective Taking Test:
Spatial Navigation and Individual Differences in Environmental Representations
This project involves studies of navigational abilities in virtual (driving simulator) and in real large-scale environments. We examined whether procedural- and survey-type representations of an environment would be present after traversing a novel route. We also examined whether individual differences in visual-spatial abilities predicted the types of representations formed. Our results challenge experience-based, sequential models of adults’ development of environmental representations. Furthermore, more spatially integrated sketch-maps were associated with higher spatial abilities. Our findings suggest that spatial abilities, not experience alone, affect the types of representations formed (Blajenkova, Motes, & Kozhevnikov, 2005; Motes, Blajenkova, & Kozhevnikov 2004).
Object-Spatial-Verbal Cognitive Style Model
Overall, our research supports the validity of an Object-Spatial-Verbal cognitive style dimension and related measures when developed on the basis of modern cognitive science theories.
Our lab is interested in investigating Cognitive Style from theoretical and applied perspectives. In our research, we refine the concept of cognitive style and develop theoretically guided measures of cognitive style.
Cognitive style historically has referred to a psychological dimension representing consistencies in an individual’s manner of cognitive functioning, particularly with respect to acquiring and processing information. The problem of reliably assessing cognitive style has always been a challenge, due to theoretical and methodological difficulties (see Kozhevnikov, 2007, for a review).
In particular, in our research, based on contemporary cognitive neuroscience evidence, we investigate object, spatial, or verbal cognitive styles that describe individuals’ preferences to, or self-assessments of, the use of object, spatial, or verbal, mode of information processing, respectively (Kozhevnikov et al., 2005; Blajenkova et al. 2006; Blazhenkova & Kozhevnikov, 2009).
Allocentric vs. Egocentric Spatial Processing
Our research on allocentric-egocentric spatial processing includes three main directions:
- Development of allocentric and egocentric spatial assessments
- Spatial Navigation and Individual Differences in Environmental Representations
- Spatial Updating
This line of research focuses on examining the dissociation between the two types of spatial imagery transformations: allocentric spatial transformations, which involve an object-to-object representational system and encode information about the location of one object or its parts with respect to other objects, versus egocentric perspective transformations that involve a self-to-object representational system.
In our lab, we examine individual differences in egocentric (imagining taking a different perspective in space) and allocentric (mentally manipulating objects from a stationary point of view ) spatial abilities, and develop assessments of these abilities .Our research also seeks to discover the relation of these two types of spatial ability to locomotion and spatial navigation.