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Nat Hum Behav. 2019 Sep 23. doi: 10.1038/s41562-019-0718-z. [Epub ahead of print]

Age-related preference for geometric spatial cues during real-world navigation.

Author information

1
Sorbonne Université, INSERM, CNRS, Institut de la Vision, Paris, France. marcia.becu@inserm.fr.
2
Sorbonne Université, INSERM, CNRS, Institut de la Vision, Paris, France.
3
Institute of Biophysics, National Research Council, Palermo, Italy.
4
CHNO des Quinze-Vingts, INSERM-DGOS CIC 1423, Paris, France.
5
Fondation Ophtalmologique Rothschild, Paris, France.
6
Department of Ophthalmology, The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
7
Sorbonne Université, INSERM, CNRS, Institut de la Vision, Paris, France. angelo.arleo@inserm.fr.

Abstract

Ageing effects on spatial navigation are characterized mainly in terms of impaired allocentric strategies. However, an alternative hypothesis is that navigation difficulties in aged people are associated with deficits in processing and encoding spatial cues. We tested this hypothesis by studying how geometry and landmark cues control navigation in young and older adults in a real, ecological environment. Recordings of body and gaze dynamics revealed a preference for geometry-based navigation in older adults, and for landmark-based navigation in younger ones. While cue processing was associated with specific fixation patterns, advanced age manifested itself in a longer reorientation time, reflecting an unbalanced exploration-exploitation trade-off in scanning policies. Moreover, a battery of tests revealed a specific cognitive deficit in older adults with geometric preference. These results suggest that allocentric strategy deficits in ageing can result from difficulties related to landmark coding, and predict recovery of allocentric strategies in geometrically polarized environments.

PMID:
31548677
DOI:
10.1038/s41562-019-0718-z

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