Representation of object orientation in children: Evidence from mirror-image confusions

Emma Gregory, Barbara Landau, Michael Mccloskey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although many cognitive functions require information about the orientations of objects, little is known about representation or processing of object orientation. Mirror-image confusion provides a potential clue. This phenomenon is typically characterized as a tendency to confuse images related by left-right reflection (reflection across an extrinsic vertical axis). However, in most previous studies the stimuli were inadequate for identifying a specific mirror-image (or other) relationship as the cause of the observed confusions. Using stimuli constructed to resolve this problem, Gregory and McCloskey (2010) found that adults' errors were primarily reflections across an object axis, and not left-right reflections. The present study demonstrates that young children's orientation errors include both object-axis reflections and left-right reflections. We argue that children and adults represent object orientation in the same coordinate-system format (McCloskey, 2009), with orientation errors resulting from difficulty encoding or retaining one (adults) or two (children) specific components of the posited representations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1035-1062
Number of pages28
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011


  • Development
  • Mirror images
  • Object representation
  • Orientation
  • Spatial cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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