Nevin Manimala Statistics

Do Our Hands See What Our Eyes See? Investigating Spatial and Haptic Abilities

Anat Sci Educ. 2022 Dec 23. doi: 10.1002/ase.2247. Online ahead of print.


Spatial abilities are cognitive resources used to mentally manipulate representations of objects to solve problems. Haptic abilities represent tactile interactions with real world objects transforming somatic information into mental representations. Both are proposed to be factors in anatomy education, yet spatial abilities and haptic abilities relationships remain unknown. The objective of the current study was to explore spatial abilities – haptic abilities interactions. A haptic abilities test (HAT) was developed based on the mental rotations test (MRT) with three-dimensional (3D) objects. The HAT was undertaken in three sensory conditions: (1) sighted, (2) sighted with haptics, and (3) haptics. Participants (n = 22; 13 females, 9 males) completed the MRT and were categorized into high spatial abilities (HSA) [n = 12, mean (±SD): 13.7 (±3.0)] and low spatial abilities (LSA) (n = 10, 5.6 (±2.0) based on score distributions about the overall mean. Each spatial abilities group’s HAT scores were compared across the three sensory conditions. Spearman’s correlation coefficients between MRT and HAT scores indicated a statistically significant correlation in sighted condition (r = 0.553, P = 0.015), but were not significant in the sighted with haptics (r = 0.0.078, P = 0.212) and haptics conditions (r = 0.043, P = 0.279). These data suggest haptic abilities appear unrelated to spatial abilities. With haptic exploration, LSA HAT scores were compensated; comparing HSA to LSA: sighted with haptics [12 (12-13)] vs [12 (11-13)], P = 0.254, and in haptics conditions [12 (11-13)] vs [12 (10-12)], P = 0.381). Migrations to online anatomy teaching, may unwittingly remove important sensory modalities from the learner. Understanding learner behaviors and performance decrements when haptic inputs are removed from the learning environment represents valuable insight informing future anatomy curriculum and resource development.

PMID:36565014 | DOI:10.1002/ase.2247

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