Visuospatial ability

What is visuospatial ability? 

Visuospatial ability refers to a person’s capacity to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects. 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?

High quality evidence shows a medium to large effect of poor visuospatial memory, and moderate quality evidence suggests poor perceptual problem solving in people with schizophrenia compared to people without schizophrenia. Moderate to high quality evidence suggests a large effect of poor global visuospatial ability in people with first-episode schizophrenia. High quality evidence shows people at clinical high risk of psychosis are more impaired on visuospatial working memory than those at familial high risk of psychosis.

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests patients taking olanzapine show improvement after treatment, while patients taking clozapine or risperidone show no improvement. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests a medium to large association between poor visuospatial ability and impaired understanding, appreciation, and reasoning with regards to consent to treatment or research. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests patients using cannabis have a small to medium-sized effect of better visuospatial ability than patients who do not use cannabis.

March 2019

Last updated at: 7:07 am, 12th March 2019
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