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Map Learning in Normal Aging: The Role of Individual Visuo-Spatial Abilities and Implications

[ Vol. 15 , Issue. 3 ]

Author(s):

Chiara Meneghetti*, Veronica Muffato, Erika Borella and Rossana De Beni   Pages 205 - 218 ( 14 )

Abstract:


Objective: The present study analyzes the age-related differences in map learning between young and normally-aging young-old and old-old adults in relation to individual visuo-spatial factors to specify which aspects of spatial learning are susceptible to aging.

Methods: Forty young, 40 young-old and 40 old-old participants performed a series of tasks to assess their visuo-spatial working memory (VSWM) and visuo-spatial (rotation) abilities, then they studied a map. To test their recall, they graphically reproduced the map in a freehand drawing, then performed a sketch map task (which involved placing a list of landmarks on a blank layout of the map) and a pointing task (adopting aligned and counter-aligned imaginary positions).

Results: The results showed that age-related differences depend on the type of recall task performed: in the pointing and freehand map-drawing tasks, the young-old and old-old performed worse than the young adults; but in the sketch map task, the young-old performed as well as the young adults and only the old-old’s performance was worse than that of the other two age groups. Concerning the role of individual factors, VSWM and rotation abilities were found strongly involved in the pointing task (especially for counter-aligned pointing) and the freehand map-drawing task.

Conclusion: Overall, these results suggest that different factors related to spatial (map) learning explain age-related differences in normal aging. The implications of the present results in normal and pathological aging, and for the purposes of clinical assessments and interventions, are discussed.

Keywords:

Map learning, pointing task, map-drawing, young-old, old-old, visuo-spatial abilities, strategies.

Affiliation:

Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Padova



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