Virtual reality is enabling the human brain to imagine, explore and learn about the world. A research team led by Margherita Malanchini based at the Queen Mary University of London, examined whether a link exists between spatial orientation (practiced when navigating through an environment) and object-based spatial abilities (applied to sport psychology and problem solving).
Data was collected from 2660 individuals aged between 19 to 22 years who had taken part in the Twins Development Study in the United Kingdom. In 2015, the twins participated in 6 tests which measured large scale spatial navigation and orientation skills, such as, route memorising, map reading, navigation following directions, scanning, perspective taking and navigation based on landmarks; and 10 tests that examined object based spatial abilities, with all tests set in virtual environments. DNA samples collected from the twins also enabled the research team to assess whether genetic and environmental variance explained the spatial ability demonstrated by the individuals.
To learn more about the results of the study, please read this free and open access article ‘Evidence for a unitary structure of spatial cognition beyond general intelligence’ published by npj Science of Learning.