Archive for September, 2009

Mental Rotation Replication in Matlab

by on Sep.08, 2009, under Cognitive Science, Programming

I recently replicated a Shepard and Metzler (1971) style experiment in order to explore OpenGL programming under Matlab. Additionally, I wanted to manipulate certain variables, such as the
type(class) of object, to verify predictions made by emerging models of
top-down processes of human vision such as those mentioned in the previous post. This replication provided a convenient point to start.

In this implementation, the participant is shown a series of 3D object pairs. On some trials, the two objects are different. On other trials, one object is simply a rotation on the xy plane of the other object by a variable multiple of 20 degrees. The participant responds by pressing ’1′ to indicate the same object or ’2′ to indicate different objects while their response time is measured. Previous research shows that response time increases linearly relative to the number of degrees one object is rotated from the other (Shepard, Metzler 1971).

The image to the right below shows the stimuli for one trial. The image to the left depicts my own results for 100 trials. My response time is far less than the typical Shepard (1971) subject but I have years of experience working with 3D graphics and, of course, wrote the code for this experiment. I’ve posted the code as I think it provides a decent example of accessing OpenGL from Matlab and a good starting point for related experiments. The code is available for download here.

Shepard R., Metzler J. (1971). Mental Rotation of Three-Dimensional Objects. Science. 171.3972, 701-703.

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