The Rod and Frame Test has been used to assess the degree to which subjects rely on the visual frame of reference to perceive vertical (visual field dependence- independence perceptual style). Early investigations found children exhibited a wide range of alignment errors, which reduced as they matured. These studies used a mechanical Rod and Frame system, and presented only mean values of grouped data. The current study also considered changes in individual performance. Changes in rod alignment accuracy in 419 school children were measured using a computer-based Rod and Frame test. Each child was tested at school Grade 2 and retested in Grades 4 and 6. The results confirmed that children displayed a wide range of alignment errors, which decreased with age but did not reach the expected adult values. Although most children showed a decrease in frame dependency over the 4 years of the study, almost 20% had increased alignment errors suggesting that they were becoming more frame-dependent. Plots of individual variation (SD) against mean error allowed the sample to be divided into 4 groups; the majority with small errors and SDs; a group with small SDs, but alignments clustering around the frame angle of 18°; a group showing large errors in the opposite direction to the frame tilt; and a small number with large SDs whose alignment appeared to be random. The errors in the last 3 groups could largely be explained by alignment of the rod to different aspects of the frame. At corresponding ages females exhibited larger alignment errors than males although this did not reach statistical significance. This study confirms that children rely more heavily on the visual frame of reference for processing spatial orientation cues. Most become less frame-dependent as they mature, but there are considerable individual differences.
Bagust, J., Docherty, S., HAYNES, W., Telford, R., & Isableu, B. (2013). Changes in Rod and Frame Test Scores Recorded in Schoolchildren during Development - A Longitudinal Study. PLoS One, 8(5), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0065321