We examine the Law of Practice, the quantitative relationship between mean response time (RT) and practice trials, for the mental rotation of a novel line figure. Over 1120 trials, 18 participants match eight different types of figures (normal or mirror images presented at 0, 45, 90 or 135 degrees) to a standard. Participants maintained constant accuracy while increasing speed markedly. RT increased substantially with angle at the start of practice, but did not differ much for normal and mirror tests. By the end of practice, angle has little effect, indicating that participants are not using mental rotation. Participants for the 135° condition particularly difficult, as indicated by markedly increased errors and RT. The reason for this effect is unclear. In agreement with Heathcote, Brown and Mewhort's (2000) meta-analysis of the law of practice for simple cognitive tasks, the development of mental rotation speed-skill in individual subjects is better described by an exponential function than a power function.
Australian Journal of Psychology Vol. 55, Issue Supplement, p. 93-93