Embodied mental rotation ability in open‑ and closed‑skill sports: pilot study with a new virtual paradigm

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


Embodied mental rotation is the influence of the body on mental rotation ability. Sports expertise enhances embodied mental rotation ability. However, sport-skill-dependent effects remain unclear. Previous studies refer to the influence of body positions on mental rotation ability. Yet, in sports, the investigation of the effect of simultaneous body and mental rotation movements is essential. Athletes need to constantly mentally and physically adapt to environmental changes and new motor tasks while being in motion themselves. This study aimed to investigate embodied mental rotation ability with simultaneous body and mental rotation in individuals with different sport skills, i.e., in open- and closed-skill sports. Forty-eight men and women, divided into two groups depending on their sport, performed 32 trials of an extended embodied mental rotation task. Simultaneous body and mental rotation were enabled by a novel test method including Virtual Reality. Results revealed shorter response times to the task stimulus in closed-skill sports participants than in open-skill sports participants. This group difference was significant for trials in which rotation directions of the own body and the mental rotation stimulus were aligned. The results might be related to sport-specific skill development processes. Motor imitation skills, as relevant in many closed-skill sports, may facilitate cognitive processes when the motion direction of the own body and of the mental rotation stimulus are aligned. The novel test method identifies potential applications that should be increasingly explored in the future, both for cognitive science and sports research.
ZeitschriftExperimental brain research
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 20.01.2024