Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Cauley

Second Advisor

Dr. James McMillan

Third Advisor

Dr. Adam Zeman

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Christine Bae


Mathematics education researchers have examined the relationship between visualization and mathematics for decades (e.g., Arcavi, 2003; Bishop, 1991; Duval, 1999; Fennema & Tartre, 1985; Presmeg, 1986). Studies have linked spatial visualization ability, such as measured in mental rotation tasks, directly to mathematics self-efficacy (Pajares & Kranzler, 1995; Weckbacher & Okamoto, 2014), which in turn influences mathematics achievement (Casey, Nuttall, & Pezaris, 1997). With the important role that spatial visualization plays in learning mathematics, the recent identification of congenital aphantasia (Zeman, Dewar, & Della Sala, 2015), which is the lack of mental imagery ability, has raised new questions for mathematics education researchers. This study investigated the differences in mental rotation test performance and vividness of spatial imagery between people who have aphantasia and people who do not as a first step toward examining how aphantasia may affect mathematics learning and education. Results confirmed prior aphantasia research showing that there was no significant difference in mental rotation test performance between people with aphantasia and those without aphantasia, despite people with aphantasia reporting significantly lower vividness of spatial imagery. Results also showed that there was less difference in mental rotation test performance between the genders for people with aphantasia, while gender played a significant role in mental rotation test performance for people without aphantasia. People with aphantasia also reported lower self-efficacy in the arts than people without aphantasia. Implications of these results will be discussed within the context of current research, and possible directions for future research will be offered.


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