The impact of ageing and gender on visual mental imagery processes: a study of performance on tasks from the Complete Visual Mental Imagery Battery (CVMIB)

Liana Palermo*, Laura Piccardi, Raffaella Nori, Fiorella Giusberti, Cecilia Guariglia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this study we aim to evaluate the impact of ageing and gender on different visual mental imagery processes. Two hundred and fifty-one participants (130 women and 121 men; age range = 18–77 years) were given an extensive neuropsychological battery including tasks probing the generation, maintenance, inspection, and transformation of visual mental images (Complete Visual Mental Imagery Battery, CVMIB). Our results show that all mental imagery processes with the exception of the maintenance are affected by ageing, suggesting that other deficits, such as working memory deficits, could account for this effect. However, the analysis of the transformation process, investigated in terms of mental rotation and mental folding skills, shows a steeper decline in mental rotation, suggesting that age could affect rigid transformations of objects and spare non-rigid transformations. Our study also adds to previous ones in showing gender differences favoring men across the lifespan in the transformation process, and, interestingly, it shows a steeper decline in men than in women in inspecting mental images, which could partially account for the mixed results about the effect of ageing on this specific process. We also discuss the possibility to introduce the CVMIB in clinical assessment in the context of theoretical models of mental imagery.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
VolumeLatest articles
Early online date1 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

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Keywords

  • mental imagery
  • mental rotation
  • normal ageing
  • sex differences
  • visuospatial skills

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