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Psychon Bull Rev. 2010 Feb;17(1):29-35. doi: 10.3758/PBR.17.1.29.

Trade-off in object versus spatial visualization abilities: restriction in the development of visual-processing resources.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia 22030, USA. mkozhevn@gmu.edu

Abstract

Previous research indicates relative independence between the ventral and dorsal visual pathways, associated with object and spatial visual processing, respectively. The present research shows that, at the individual-differences level, there is a trade-off, rather than independence, between object and spatial visualization abilities. Across five different age groups with different professional specializations, participants with above-average object visualization abilities (artists) had below-average spatial visualization abilities, and the inverse was true for those with above-average spatial visualization abilities (scientists). No groups showed both above-average object and above-average spatial visualization abilities. Furthermore, while total object and spatial visualization resources increase with age and experience, the trade-off relationship between object and spatial visualization abilities does not. These results suggest that the trade-off originates through a bottleneck that restricts the development of overall visualization resources, rather than through preferential experience in one type of visualization.

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