Effects of Age on Memory for Spatial Location: A Multiple Target Task
Pratt, Angela K.
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Previous research has suggested that people depend on an internal representation of their environmental surroundings in order to accurately reproduce a spatial target location. Although research indicates that many aspects of cognitive ability decrease with age, specific aspects involving cognitive mapping and target localization (TL) processes have only focused on younger populations. This study examined 12 healthy older adults and 12 healthy younger adults on a TL task and a short battery of neuropsychological tests. The TL task included two targets and explored the effects of age, gender, and task complexity on centimeters error from the final target destination. An ANOVA with repeated measures revealed significant main effects of age for all complex conditions involving moving to two targets. However, no significant age effects were found when participants walked to only one target. This indicates that when older individuals are distracted by first walking (with or without a guide) to an intermediate point before walking to their final destination, they perform worse than younger individuals. Results did not show any significant gender effects.