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Brain Teaser: Test your mental rotation skills

Are you famil­iar with men­tal rota­tion? It refers to mov­ing things around in your head. It is one of the numer­ous visu­ospa­tial skills that we all have.

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. Although it is rare to con­scious­ly imag­ine objects mov­ing, peo­ple auto­mat­i­cal­ly 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 (yel­low sec­tion in the brain image above).

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

  • The top shape is your mod­el.
  • Among the 3 shapes below the mod­el, only one match­es the mod­el. To fig­ure out which one does you will prob­a­bly have to move the shapes around in your head.
  • Move the shapes from left to right or right to left but DO NOT FLIP them around.

First set

Sec­ond set

Third Set

To see the cor­rect answers click here:

Answers:

First set: The sec­ond shape match­es the mod­el.

Sec­ond set: The sec­ond shape match­es the mod­el.

Third set: The first shape match­es the mod­el.

 

More brain teas­er games:

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5 Responses

  1. webhill says:

    Inter­est­ing. I did­n’t do this by mov­ing the shapes in my head — which would nev­er work, I’m spa­tial-rela­tions chal­lenged. I did get the answers pret­ty fast though, and I did it by just notic­ing unique fea­tures of the mod­el — for exam­ple, the first test, the short side of the poly­gon has a sin­gle out­lined cres­cent attached to it. Only one of the answers meets that cri­te­ria. For the sec­ond test, only one of the answers has a cir­cle and a tri­an­gle-with-its-base-attached-to-the-long-side-of-the-rec­tan­gle adja­cent to one of the right angles. You get the idea.

    I’d love to see a test that tru­ly mea­sures abil­i­ty to men­tal­ly rotate items. I’m sure I’d total­ly fail 🙂

  2. Anon says:

    As a for­mer Mechan­i­cal Design­er mov­ing or mir­ror­ing the pat­terns in my head is exact­ly what I did. Ear­ly train­ing for any engi­neer­ing stu­dent involves many hours of these spa­tial-rela­tions type exer­cis­es as it is a nec­es­sary skill. With­out them, you might want to take up a dif­fer­ent field of study, yet it is a skill that can be learned.

  3. Pascale says:

    Thanks for your com­ments!
    Anon: your exam­ple is a great one to show how we can train our brains to learn and boost any types of skills.

  4. Tony Horton says:

    I think I end­ed up cheat­ing on this, my mind just want­ed to flip it, I did­n’t real­ly rotate it like I was sup­posed too.

  5. Mike says:

    It can be dif­fi­cult and most all engi­neer­ing stu­dent strug­gle a bit with it at one time or anoth­er. I recall hav­ing some issues with Flat Pat­tern devel­op­ment but in time I mas­tered that and became rather good at it. About eight years ago I expe­ri­enced a rup­tured cere­bral aneurysm and since then my math skills have not been what they should but the spa­tial-rela­tions skills are still there and maybe even a bit bet­ter. I can usu­al­ly still look at a draw­ing and, in my mind, project every­thing into a sol­id.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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