Proof of a uniform structure of spatial perception (Gv) beyond general intelligence (g) General knowledge

A very convincing study that supports a general, uniform, but multidimensional spatial GM factor. Click here for Open Access copy.

Evidence of a uniform structure of spatial perception beyond general intelligence

Margherita Malanchini, Kaili Rimfeld, Nicholas G. Shakeshaft, Andrew McMillan, Kerry L. Schofield, Maja Rodic, Valerio Rossi, Julia Kovas, Philip S. Dale, Elliot M. Tucker-Drob, Mand Robert Plomin


Performance in everyday spatial orientation tasks (e.g. map reading and navigation) was considered functionally separate from performance in more abstract object-based spatial skills (e.g. mental rotation and visualization). However, few studies have looked at the relationship between spatial orientation and object-based spatial skills, and fewer have done so, including a variety of spatial tests. To investigate this problem, and more generally to test the structure of spatial ability, we used a novel gamified battery to evaluate six spatial orientation tests in a virtual environment and examined their association with ten object-based spatial tests and their linkages in general cognitive ability (g). We further appreciated the role of genetic and environmental factors in the underlying variation and covariation in these spatial tests. The participants (N = 2660; 19–22 years) were part of the Twins Early Development Study. The six spatial orientation tests were grouped into a single navigation factor that was 64% inheritable. Examining the structure of spatial ability across all 16 tests revealed three essentially correlated factors: navigation, object manipulation and visualization. These, in turn, heavily loaded on a general factor of spatial ability that was highly inheritable (84%). A large part (45%) of this high heredity was independent of g. The results indicate the existence of a common genetic network that supports all spatial capabilities.

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