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Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Jan;33(1):202.e15-22. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.07.021. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Effects of age on navigation strategy.

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Institute of Gerontology and Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA.


Age differences in navigation strategies have been demonstrated in animals, with aged animals more likely to prefer an egocentric (route) strategy and younger animals more likely to prefer an allocentric (place) strategy. Using a novel virtual Y-maze strategy assessment (vYSA), the present study demonstrated substantial age differences in strategy preference in humans. Older adults overwhelmingly preferred an egocentric strategy, while younger adults were equally distributed between egocentric and allocentric preference. A preference for allocentric strategy on the Y-maze strategy assessment was found to benefit performance on an independent assessment (virtual Morris water task) only in younger adults. These results establish baseline age differences in spatial strategies and suggest this may impact performance on other spatial navigation assessments. The results are interpreted within the framework of age differences in hippocampal structure and function.

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