Visuospatial ability

What is visuospatial ability?

Visuospatial ability refers to a person’s capacity to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects. This ability may be disrupted in people with PTSD. Visuospatial ability is measured in terms of the ability to imagine objects, to make global shapes by locating small components, or to understand the differences and similarities between objects.

Several tests have been designed to assess visuospatial ability. The Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) block-design subtest requires subjects to use small blocks to recreate a larger block pattern. The WAIS picture arrangement subtest assesses perceptual skills and involves study participants placing pictures in a logical order. The WAIS Object Assembly subtest assesses speed and accuracy of jigsaw puzzle completion. The WAIS Picture Completion task requires participants to visually scan an image and identify what is missing. The WAIS Matrix Reasoning subtest requires participants to select the missing design in a patterned sequence. The Benton Judgement of Line Orientation Test requires participants to identify the orientation of a line in comparison to a target line; and both the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test (ROCFT) and the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) visuospatial /constructional subtest, involve replicating a complex figure from memory.

What is the evidence for visuospatial ability in people with PTSD?

Moderate to high quality evidence finds medium-sized effects of poorer visuospatial ability in people with PTSD compared to traumatised or non-traumatised controls without PTSD. There was no moderating effect of age.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 2:10 am, 29th August 2021
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