Mental visualization of objects from cross-sectional images

Bing Wu, Roberta L. Klatzky, George D. Stetten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We extended the classic anorthoscopic viewing procedure to test a model of visualization of 3D structures from 2D cross-sections. Four experiments were conducted to examine key processes described in the model, localizing cross-sections within a common frame of reference and spatiotemporal integration of cross sections into a hierarchical object representation. Participants used a hand-held device to reveal a hidden object as a sequence of cross-sectional images. The process of localization was manipulated by contrasting two displays, in situ vs. ex situ, which differed in whether cross sections were presented at their source locations or displaced to a remote screen. The process of integration was manipulated by varying the structural complexity of target objects and their components. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrated visualization of 2D and 3D line-segment objects and verified predictions about display and complexity effects. In Experiments 3 and 4, the visualized forms were familiar letters and numbers. Errors and orientation effects showed that displacing cross-sectional images to a remote display (ex situ viewing) impeded the ability to determine spatial relationships among pattern components, a failure of integration at the object level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-49
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Anorthoscopic
  • Cross-section
  • Integration
  • Spatiotemporal
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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