Retrieving spatial information is a crucial everyday ability that is affected by age-related changes. Previous research has shown that this change is mediated by familiarity with an environment. The present research uses a series of landmark location tasks to extend and deepen our understanding of the role of aging in spatial mental representations of more or less familiar environments, also disentangling the contribution of coordinate and categorical spatial relations. The study tested the following hypotheses: (1) younger adults only have an advantage over the elderly in less familiar environments; (2) the advantage for categorical over coordinate spatial relations is mainly found for less familiar environments; and finally; (3) interactions between age, familiarity, and spatial relations might reveal that the effects of age and familiarity take different trajectories for coordinate and categorical spatial relations. Results confirmed that: (1) young people outperform the elderly only in less familiar environments; (2) there is a reduction in the difference between coordinate and categorical accuracy with increasing familiarity with the environment; while (3) the interaction between age and level of familiarity did not significantly differentiate coordinate from categorical spatial relations. In conclusion, the present study provides new evidence for the role of familiarity with geographical areas and its impact on the representation of categorical and coordinate relations, with practical implications for the assessment of topographical disorientation in aging.

The impact of age and familiarity with the environment on categorical and coordinate spatial relation representations

Lopez A.
;
Caffo A. O.;Bosco A.
2021

Abstract

Retrieving spatial information is a crucial everyday ability that is affected by age-related changes. Previous research has shown that this change is mediated by familiarity with an environment. The present research uses a series of landmark location tasks to extend and deepen our understanding of the role of aging in spatial mental representations of more or less familiar environments, also disentangling the contribution of coordinate and categorical spatial relations. The study tested the following hypotheses: (1) younger adults only have an advantage over the elderly in less familiar environments; (2) the advantage for categorical over coordinate spatial relations is mainly found for less familiar environments; and finally; (3) interactions between age, familiarity, and spatial relations might reveal that the effects of age and familiarity take different trajectories for coordinate and categorical spatial relations. Results confirmed that: (1) young people outperform the elderly only in less familiar environments; (2) there is a reduction in the difference between coordinate and categorical accuracy with increasing familiarity with the environment; while (3) the interaction between age and level of familiarity did not significantly differentiate coordinate from categorical spatial relations. In conclusion, the present study provides new evidence for the role of familiarity with geographical areas and its impact on the representation of categorical and coordinate relations, with practical implications for the assessment of topographical disorientation in aging.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11586/371733
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