Decline of Visuospatial Ability with Normal Aging as Measured by the Southern California Figure-Ground Visual Perception Test
This study addressed the decline of visuospatial ability with normal aging as measured by the Southern California Figure-Ground Visual Perception Test (FG) (Ayers, 1966; 1980). One hundred and twenty eight male inpatients (ages 40 to 97) from a geriatric medicine and rehabilitation facility, who were free of documented central nervous system pathology, trauma, and cognitive impairment, were administered the FG. Previous pilot studies demonstrated that performance on the FG declines with normal aging. The results of the current study support and expand upon this finding. This study employed a larger sample that allowed for extended age groups within this older sample. A statistically significant and large decline of FG performance was found beginning around the end of the sixth decade of life. A comparison of the mean FG total scores of this study's older sample with FG normative data on college age males demonstrated a further decline of FG performance with normal aging. No significant differences were found between levels of completed education and mean FG total scores within this sample. The results of this study benefit neuropsychology in three ways. First, the data obtained from this study provides a more accurate test based differentiation of visuospatial decline caused by normal aging as measured by the FG. Second, this study can be utilized as a reference to compare the performance of older adults, with or without brain pathology, to determine the possibility of abnormal visuospatial decline throughout the aging process. Finally, the results of this study lay the foundation for future brain-imaging studies concerned with possible physiological causes for the decline of visuospatial ability with normal aging and brain pathology.
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