Spatial updating of multiple targets: Comparison of younger and older adults


Bennett CR, Loomis JM, Klatzky RL, Giudice NA. Spatial updating of multiple targets: Comparison of younger and older adults. Mem Cognit 2017;

Date Published:

2017 Jun 26


When walking without vision, people mentally keep track of the directions and distances of previously viewed objects, a process called spatial updating. The current experiment indicates that while people across a large age range are able to update multiple targets in memory without perceptual support, aging negatively affects accuracy, precision, and decision time. Participants (20 to 80 years of age) viewed one, three, or six targets (colored lights) on the floor of a dimly lit room. Then, without vision, they walked to a target designated by color, either directly or indirectly (via a forward turning point). The younger adults' final stopping points were both accurate (near target) and precise (narrowly dispersed), but updating performance did degrade slightly with the number of targets. Older adults' performance was consistently worse than the younger group, but the lack of interaction between age and memory load indicates that the effect of age on performance was not further exacerbated by a greater number of targets. The number of targets also significantly increased the latency required to turn toward the designated target for both age groups. Taken together, results extend previous work showing impressive updating performance by younger adults, with novel findings showing that older adults manifest small but consistent degradation of updating performance of multitarget arrays.

Last updated on 07/10/2017