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.
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