Poster D108, Monday, March 26, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Optimizing STEM skills: A baseline assessment of the neural correlates of mental rotation
Steven Greening1, Katherine Moen1, Stephanie Saltzmann1, Lauryn Burleigh1, Leslie Butler1, Jagannathan Ramanujam1, Alex Cohen1, Melissa Beck1; 1Louisiana State University
Success in STEM courses and careers requires spatial reasoning skills. Students demonstrating lower spatial reasoning skills struggle in STEM courses (Hegarty, 2010). We designed a prospective study to determine both the predictors and the mechanisms for how best to optimize STEM skills, specifically spatial reasoning. The present results reflect the baseline from a larger project aimed at determining the neurocognitive predictors of successful STEM training. We tested the prediction that mental rotation would be associated with increased activation in a visuomotor network including the inferior and superior parietal lobes, and the premotor cortices (Logie et al., 2011). Students enrolled in Introduction to Chemistry classes completed behaviorally mental rotation tasks with 3-D blocks (Shepard & Metzler, 1971) at Day-1. On Day-2, they completed an fMRI scan during which they completed a modified version of the mental rotation task with 3-D Blocks. Using a block-design, two stimuli were presented side-by-side and students decided if the two stimuli were rotated versions of the same item or if they were mirror versions of each other (i.e., it would be impossible to rotate one to get it to look like the other). Participants complete 30 second blocks in which the images that were either not rotated, or were rotated 60°, 100°, or 140° from each other. Behavioral results replicated previous research in that accuracy decreased and response time increased as angular disparity increased (Stieff, 2007). To better understand the underlying neurocognitive mechanisms associated mental rotation, full brain imaging results will be discussed.
Topic Area: THINKING: Other