Differential effects of aging on spatial learning through exploratory navigation and map reading

Yamamoto, Naohide & DeGirolamo, Gregory J. (2012) Differential effects of aging on spatial learning through exploratory navigation and map reading. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 4(14), pp. 1-7.

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It has been shown that abilities in spatial learning and memory are adversely affected by aging. The present study was conducted to investigate whether increasing age has equal consequences for all types of spatial learning or impacts certain types of spatial learning selectively. Specifically, two major types of spatial learning, exploratory navigation and map reading, were contrasted. By combining a neuroimaging finding that the medial temporal lobe (MTL) is especially important for exploratory navigation and a neurological finding that the MTL is susceptible to age-related atrophy, it was hypothesized that spatial learning through exploratory navigation would exhibit a greater decline in later life than spatial learning through map reading. In an experiment, young and senior participants learned locations of landmarks in virtual environments either by navigating in them in the first-person perspective or by seeing aerial views of the environments. Results showed that senior participants acquired less accurate memories of the layouts of landmarks than young participants when they navigated in the environments, but the two groups did not differ in spatial learning performance when they viewed the environments from the aerial perspective. These results suggest that spatial learning through exploratory navigation is particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of aging, whereas elderly adults may be able to maintain their map reading skills relatively well.

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8 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 73020
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: aerial; aging; ground-level; map; navigation; route; spatial learning; survey
DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2012.00014
ISSN: 1663-4365
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Deposited On: 24 Jun 2014 03:45
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2015 01:20

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