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Aging Ment Health. 2017 May;21(5):562-570. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2015.1132673. Epub 2016 Jan 8.

How to enhance route learning and visuo-spatial working memory in aging: a training for residential care home residents.

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a IRCCS Fondazione Ospedale San Camillo , Venezia , Italy.
b Department of General Psychology , University of Padova , Padova , Italy.



This study aimed to assess the efficacy of a route-learning training in a group of older adults living in a residential care home. We verified the presence of training-specific effects in tasks similar to those trained - route-learning tasks - as well as transfer effects on related cognitive processes - visuo-spatial short-term memory (VSSTM; Corsi Blocks Test (CBT), forward version), visuo-spatial working memory (VSWM; CBT, backward version; Pathway Span Tasks; Jigsaw Puzzle Test) - and in self-report measures. The maintenance of training benefits was examined after 3 months.


Thirty 70-90-year-old residential care home residents were randomly assigned to the route-learning training group or to an active control group (involved in non-visuo-spatial activities).


The trained group performed better than the control group in the route-learning tasks, retaining this benefit 3 months later. Immediate transfer effects were also seen in visuo-spatial span tasks (i.e., CBT forward and backward version and Pathway Span Task); these benefits had been substantially maintained at the 3-month follow-up.


These findings suggest that a training on route learning is a promising approach to sustain older adults' environmental learning and some related abilities (e.g., VSSTM and VSWM), even in residential care home residents.


Route-learning training; navigation abilities; older adults; residential care homes; visuo-spatial memory

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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