Project

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Development of Spatial Transformation Abilities

Applicant Frick Andrea
Number 131866
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie Institut für Psychologie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.03.2011 - 28.02.2014
Approved amount 433'790.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
Education and learning sciences, subject-specific education

Keywords (8)

Spatial Transformation; Mental Rotation; Perspective Taking; Spatial Scaling; Cognitive Development; Spatial Skills; Individual Differences; Assessment

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
The ability to reason about objects in space is a fundamental aspect of everyday cognition. In order to interact with our environment, we must be able to represent objects and anticipate their movements and transformations. Progress in various school disciplines seems to be strongly tied to people's ability to reason about spatial configurations and their properties, and research on spatial skills has often revealed wide individual differences. Fortunately, mounting evidence suggests that we are able to train spatial thinking. However, in order to develop purposeful and well-directed interventions, we need to have a better understanding of the emergence of individual differences, the early developments, and the consequences of spatial skills.

A first aim of the present project is to take a comprehensive look at how different mental spatial transformation abilities are related by testing children around the age of 5 years. Analyses of individual differences and correlations among different tests will give us valuable information on how children understand basic spatial transformations before entering school.

A second aim of this project is to take an in-depth look at the development of mental object rotation ability. To date, there are only a few studies that have investigated mental rotation in children younger than 5 years. In order to investigate the early emergence and developmental trajectories of mental rotation, we will develop and refine paradigms for research with young children.

A third aim of this project is to gain a better understanding of how individual differences in early spatial transformation performance contribute to children's school achievement and cognitive development throughout early childhood. Thus, the proposed study will include a longitudinal approach, in which we will assess children's later cognitive skills and academic achievement.

This project will thus provide a rich and comprehensive picture of the development of mental spatial transformation abilities. By incorporating longitudinal data, we can gain deeper insight into their stability or malleability over the course of development. Through utilizing a number of cross-sectional measures we will gain a broader understanding of individual differences in various spatial transformation abilities. It is crucial to add to our understanding of the ways in which relative strengths or weaknesses in different spatial transformation skills are related, in order to identify children at risk of developing delays at a young age, and to create tools for assessment and early intervention.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
The relation between spatial perspective taking and inhibitory control in 6-year-old children
Frick Andrea, Baumeler Denise (2017), The relation between spatial perspective taking and inhibitory control in 6-year-old children, in Psychological Research, 81, 730-739.
A matter of balance: Motor control is related to children’s spatial scaling and proportional reasoning skills
Frick Andrea, Möhring Wenke (2016), A matter of balance: Motor control is related to children’s spatial scaling and proportional reasoning skills, in Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 2049.
Development of mental transformation abilities
Frick Andrea, Möhring Wenke, Newcombe Nora S. (2014), Development of mental transformation abilities, in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18, 536-542.
Picturing perspectives: Development of perspective-taking abilities in 4- to 8-year-olds
Frick Andrea, Möhring Wenke, Newcombe Nora S. (2014), Picturing perspectives: Development of perspective-taking abilities in 4- to 8-year-olds, in Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 386.
Zooming in on spatial scaling: Preschool children and adults use mental transformations to scale spaces.
Möhring Wenke, Newcombe Nora S., Frick Andrea (2014), Zooming in on spatial scaling: Preschool children and adults use mental transformations to scale spaces., in Developmental psychology, 50, 1614-1619.
Development Development of mental rotation in 3- to 5-year-old children
Frick Andrea, Hansen Melissa A., Newcombe Nora S. (2013), Development Development of mental rotation in 3- to 5-year-old children, in Cognitive Development, 28, 386-399.
Development of mental rotation in 3- to 5-year-old children
Frick Andrea, Hansen Melissa A., Newcombe Nora S. (2013), Development of mental rotation in 3- to 5-year-old children, in Cognitive Development, 28, 386-399.
Mental object rotation and motor development in 8- and 10-month-old infants
Frick Andrea, Moehring Wenke (2013), Mental object rotation and motor development in 8- and 10-month-old infants, in JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL CHILD PSYCHOLOGY, 115(4), 708-720.
Remembering where: The origins and early development of spatial memory
Lourenco Stella F., Frick Andrea (2013), Remembering where: The origins and early development of spatial memory, in Patricia J. Bauer & Robyn Fivush (ed.), 361-393.
Touching up mental rotation: Effects of manual experience on 6-month-old infants' mental object rotation.
Möhring Wenke, Frick Andrea (2013), Touching up mental rotation: Effects of manual experience on 6-month-old infants' mental object rotation., in Child development, 84(5), 1554-65.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Temple University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Universität Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
University of Chicago United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Emory University United States of America (North America)
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
European Conference on Developmental Psychology Poster The relation between spatial perspective taking and inhibitory abilities in 6-year-old children 03.09.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland Frick Andrea;
European Conference on Developmental Psychology Poster A sense of proportion? Spatial proportional reasoning is associated with formal knowledge about Fractions 03.09.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland Frick Andrea;
Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development Poster Picturing Perspectives – The Development of Perspective-Taking Abilities in 4- to 8-Year-Olds 17.04.2013 Seattle, United States of America Frick Andrea;
Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development Poster Mental Transformation for Spatial Scaling in 4- and 5-Year-Olds 17.04.2013 Seattle, United States of America Frick Andrea;
5th International Conference on Spatial Cognition: “Space and Embodied Cognition” Talk given at a conference Effects of Manual Experience on 4- to 11-Month-Olds’ Mental Object Rotation 04.09.2012 Rome, Italy Frick Andrea;
Spatial Cognition Conference Poster The Space Between the Lines: Young Children’s Understanding of 2D Diagrams of 3D Objects 31.08.2012 Seeon, Germany Frick Andrea;
University of Stirling Seminar Programme Individual talk The Early Development of Mental Rotation Abilities 24.11.2011 School of Natrual Sciences, University of Stirling, Scotland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Frick Andrea;
VII Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society Poster Development of Mental Rotation in 3- to 5-Year-Olds 14.10.2011 Philadelphia, PA, USA, United States of America Frick Andrea;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
117012 Spatial Thinking and Embodied Cognition in Children and Adults 01.01.2007 Fellowships for prospective researchers

Abstract

The ability to represent and reason about objects in space is a fundamental aspect of everyday cognition. In order to move around and interact with our environment, we must be able to represent our position with respect to our spatial surroundings, recognize objects from different perspectives, and anticipate object movements. Moreover, progress in various school disciplines seems to be strongly tied to people’s ability to reason about spatial configurations and their properties, research on spatial skills has often revealed wide individual differences, and children’s socio-economical background and gender seem to affect task performance. Fortunately, spatial skills have also been shown to be malleable, and mounting evidence suggests that we are able to train spatial thinking. However, in order to develop purposeful and well-directed interventions that can improve spatial abilities at a young age, we need to have a better understanding of the emergence of individual differences, the early developments, and the consequences of spatial skills. Thus, in the proposed study, I will investigate the development of spatial transformation abilities in the first years of life by applying a multi-level approach that combines longitudinal and cross-sectional data.A first aim of the proposed study is to find out how different mental spatial transformation abilities are related. We will take a comprehensive look at various mental spatial transformation skills, by having 5-year-old children participate in multiple tasks that test different mental transformation abilities. Analyses of individual differences and correlations among the tests will give us valuable information on how children understand these basic spatial transformations before entering school.A second aim of the proposed study is to take an in-depth look at the development of mental object rotation ability. To date, there are only a few studies that have investigated mental rotation in children younger that 5 years, and these studies yielded diverging results as to when this ability emerges and which factors influence young children’s performance. In the proposed study, I will develop and refine mental rotation paradigms for research with young children, in order to fill the gap between the infant and adult research. By testing children at different ages and comparing different mental rotation paradigms, I will investigate the early emergence and developmental trajectories of mental rotation. A third aim of the proposed study is to gain a better understanding of how individual differences in early spatial transformation performance contribute to children’s school achievement and cognitive development throughout early childhood. Thus, the proposed study will include a longitudinal approach, in which I will follow up on the children who completed the task battery at age 5, and assess their later cognitive skills and academic achievement.This multi-level approach will provide a rich and comprehensive picture of the development of mental spatial transformation abilities. By incorporating longitudinal data, we can gain deeper insight into the stability or malleability of individual differences over the course of development. Through utilizing a number of cross-sectional measures we will gain a broader understanding of individual differences in various spatial transformation abilities. It is crucial to add to our understanding of the ways in which relative strengths or weaknesses in different spatial transformation skills are related, in order to identify children at risk of developing delays at a young age, and to create tools for assessment and early intervention.
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