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Physiol Behav. 2011 Jul 6;103(5):513-22. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.03.024. Epub 2011 Apr 2.

Age, sex, and handedness differentially contribute to neurospatial function on the Memory Island and Novel-Image Novel-Location tests.

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Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA.


Memory Island and the Novel-Image Novel-Location are recently developed measures of spatial learning and recognition-memory modeled after the Morris water maze and the novel object-recognition tests. The goal of this study was to characterize how sex, age, and handedness contribute to Memory Island and Novel-Image Novel-Location performance. Volunteers (N=287, ages 6 to 67) from a local science museum completed four Memory Island trials containing a visible target and four trials containing a hidden target. A pronounced sex difference favoring males was noted in all measures of hidden trial performance. The total latency during the hidden trials among older-adults was longer than younger-adults or adolescents. Faster and more efficient performance by males was also identified during the visible trials, particularly among children. Adolescents and younger-adults outperformed children and older ages. Sinistrals had a lower cumulative distance to the target. Novel-Image Novel-Location behavior was examined in a separate sample (N=128, ages 6 to 86). Females had higher Novel-Image and Novel-Location scores than males. Novel-Image performance was independent of age while sinistrals had elevated Novel-Image scores relative to dextrals. Together, these findings identify how sex, age, and handedness uniquely contribute to performance on these tasks.

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