Mental imagery skills predict the ability in performing environmental directional judgements

Laura Piccardi, Alessia Bocchi, Massimiliano Palmiero, Paola Verde, Raffaella Nori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mental imagery plays a crucial role in several cognitive processes, including human navigation. According to the Kosslyn’s Model, mental imagery is subserved by three components: generation, inspection and transformation. The role of transformation, where by individuals recognise, from a different perspective, a place they have already visited, is no longer a matter of debate. However, the role of the other two components when recalling a map from different perspectives, has never been fully investigated. In the present study, we enrolled forty-nine college students and asked them to learn a schematic map and to provide directional judgements aligned or counter-aligned compared to the learnt map orientation. Their mental imagery generation, inspection and transformation skills were also investigated. Results demonstrated that all three visual mental imagery components negatively correlate with errors in providing directional judgements. Specifically, generation assumes a role in aligned directional judgements, while inspection and transformation predict the capability to provide counter-aligned directional judgements. Although all mental imagery components play a role in mentally recalling a map, only the proficiency in inspection and mental rotation can predict the accuracy in changing perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2225-2233
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Changing perspective
  • Directional judgements
  • Human navigation
  • Map learning
  • Mental rotation
  • Visual mental imagery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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