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


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.

Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title

Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition