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Brain Teaser: Boost your visuospatial skills

Boost your visu­ospa­tial skills and learn about your brain
– By Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon

Visu­ospa­tial skills are used every­day in many ways, rang­ing from going from one room to anoth­er in your house to solv­ing a jig­saw puz­zle and nav­i­gat­ing in a new city. Temporal lobe Frontal Lobe

One spe­cif­ic visu­ospa­tial skill has to do with mov­ing spa­tial infor­ma­tion around in your head. It is called men­tal rota­tion.

Let’s take an exam­ple. Can you pic­ture in your head an arrow point­ing to the right? Now, turn this arrow so it points to the left. Done?

You have just per­formed a men­tal rota­tion! Peo­ple use this abil­i­ty when they read maps, use tools, play chess, arrange fur­ni­ture, dri­ve in traf­fic, etc.

Men­tal rota­tion relies most­ly on the pari­etal areas of your brain (orange sec­tion in the brain image above).

Here is a brain exer­cise to stim­u­late your men­tal rota­tion skill.

For each num­ber, decide whether it is a nor­mal or reversed num­ber (see exam­ple below).

example visuospatial skills

Note: NO FLIPS allowed!

exercise visuospatial skills


Row 1: nor­mal, reversed, reversed
Row 2: nor­mal, nor­mal, reversed

Row 3: nor­mal, reversed, reversed

Pascale Michelon— This arti­cle was writ­ten by Pas­cale Mich­e­lon, Ph. D., for Copy­right 2008. Dr. Mich­e­lon has a Ph.D. in Cog­ni­tive Psy­chol­o­gy and has worked as a Research Sci­en­tist at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in Saint Louis, in the Psy­chol­o­gy Depart­ment. She con­duct­ed sev­er­al research projects to under­stand how the brain makes use of visu­al infor­ma­tion and mem­o­rizes facts. She is now an Adjunct Fac­ul­ty at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, and teach­es Mem­o­ry Work­shops in numer­ous retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties in the St Louis area.

For more exer­cis­es, check out our Brain Teasers sec­tion.

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30 Responses

  1. Lambodar Prasad Dash says:

    five in first row is reversed

  2. CDR says:

    So…when is the web­site going to be fixed to reflect the cor­rect answer? This has been going on since March. It’s now Novem­ber. ;^)

  3. We had assumed read­ers would see Pas­cale’s cor­rec­tion in the Com­ments section…but clear­ly that did­n’t do the trick, so we have cor­rect­ed the answer itself. Thank you.

  4. robby h says:

    Flip­ping is the mea­sure of whether the thing is reversed. If it has to be flipped (and then pos­si­bly rotat­ed also) for it to appear nor­mal then it is reversed. If it can sim­ply be rotat­ed with­in the two dimen­sions that it is pre­sent­ed in then it is nor­mal. So when she says, “no flip­ping”, it is almost an entrenched joke because it is a lim­i­ta­tion on how many dimen­sions you are allowed to manip­u­late in order to solve the prob­lem. Per­son­al­ly it is eas­i­er for me to flip than it is to rotate so I solve it by flip­ping (unless the let­ter is ori­ent­ed just right, then it is eas­i­er to rotate). Rota­tion works fine and is a two dimen­sion­al solu­tion. I think that the inclu­sion of flip­ping makes it more inter­est­ing as long as you watch your­self rotat­ing or flip­ping and notice your minds ten­den­cy to take the path of least resis­tance, but I have always thought that watch­ing the prob­lem solver solve the prob­lem is vast­ly more inter­est­ing than the prob­lem itself.
    (Just thoughts, enjoy!)

  5. Carolyn says:

    None are nor­mal. They may not be a per­fect rever­sal, but, none are a per­fect nor­mal.

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