Mental rotation performance and circadian chronotype in university students: a preliminary study

Masaki Nishida*, Hiroki Ando, Yusuke Murata, Kohei Shioda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The present study aimed to explore the influence of the chronotype on mental rotation performance in university students. Using the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ), 24 healthy volunteers were categorized as either early chronotype (ECT) or late chronotype (LCT). Participants completed a chronometric mental rotation task with three-dimensional stimuli at different times of day (8 AM and 8 PM). ECT participants showed a shorter reaction time in the morning trial than in the evening (p = 0.003), whereas LCT participants showed a shorter reaction time (p = 0.001) and increased accuracy (p = 0.031) in the evening compared to the morning session. Additionally, the MEQ score was positively correlated with the difference in reaction time between morning and evening trials (r = −0.589, p = 0.002). Two-way analysis of variance revealed an interaction between time and chronotype for the parameter reaction time in the evening trials (F(1, 22) = 28.27, p < 0.001). LCT participants showed higher speed and increased accuracy during their optimal time compared to ECT participants. This study explored diurnal alterations of visual-spatial abilities assessed as mental rotation performance, and the possible implications for certain life skills such as sports, car driving, and manual labor are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Rhythm Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • chronotype
  • Mental rotation
  • students
  • vigilance
  • visual-spatial processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology (medical)


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