Neural correlates of individual differences in spatial learning strategies

Amy L. Shelton, John D.E. Gabrieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Behavioral studies have shown that spatial skills, such as mental rotation, are correlated with preferences for certain types of spatial information. To be more specific, better mental rotation is associated with a preference for survey (maplike) spatial information relative to route (landmark or wayfinding) information. Functional MRI was used to investigate how individual differences in spatial skills (mental rotation) interact with encoding information from these 2 spatial perspectives. Despite similarities in performance across individuals for route and survey learning, differences between route and survey encoding activation increased with increased mental rotation ability in anterior cingulate, middle frontal gyrus, and postcentral gyrus. This correlation appeared to be due to decreasing activation during survey encoding and not activation changes during route learning. The results suggest that mental rotation skill contributes to survey or map learning but that alternative strategies can be used under the circumstances of this study to achieve equal performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-449
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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