Older adults map novel environments but do not place learn: Findings from a computerized spatial task

Holly E. Laurance, Kevin G.F. Thomas, Mary C. Newman, Alfred W. Kaszniak, Lynn Nadel, W. Jake Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


The present study examined older adults' memory for the layout of a novel environment. Young and older adults were trained to find a visible or an invisible target located in a fixed place in a computer-generated (CG) space. All adults relocated a visible target equally well; however, young adults consistently relocated an invisible target whereas older adults did not. With extensive exposure to the CG environment, all adults recalled and reconstructed the layout of that spatial environment equally well. More importantly, however, young adults placed the invisible target within the layout correctly, but the older adults placed the target incorrectly. It is striking that older adults appear to acquire and retain a cognitive map of a novel CG environment despite their continued difficulty in remembering a location within their map.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-97
Number of pages13
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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