Motor imagery and engagement favour spatial reasoning

Francesco Ianì and his colleagues published new studies in Memory & Cognition on how motor imagery engages spatial reasoning, in line with the idea that spatial reasoning depends on constructing and maintaining mental models. Their abstract is here:

Based on the assumption that spatial reasoning relies on the construction of mental models of the states of affairs described in the premises, and on evidence that sensory-motor imagery can enhance cognitive abilities, we hypothesised that imagining moving the objects mentioned in the premises to the specific spatial locations should favour spatial reasoning. The results of Experiment 1 confirmed the prediction: when participants imagined moving the objects mentioned in the premises (dynamic-engagement condition), they drew accurate inferences faster compared with participants who merely read the premises (static-non-engagement condition). Experiment 2 was in part a replication of Experiment 1 but included two additional experimental conditions to control for possible effects of self-engagement in reasoning: in one condition, participants imagined that someone else was moving the objects (dynamic-non-engagement condition), and in the other condition, participants imagined that they were observing the objects (static-engagement condition). The results revealed an interaction between motor imagery and engagement in decreasing response times to spatial problems. We discuss the practical implications of the current results.

and their paper is available here (paywalled).

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