Familiar Environments Enhance Object and Spatial Memory in Both Younger and Older Adults
The researchers investigated whether familiarity with an environment affects spatial memory in younger and older adults. A realistic virtual model of a local environment (i.e., Trinity College Dublin) was used to create videos of two routes taken through the west and east end of the environment in a first-person perspective. They found relatively worse performance for the older than younger adults across all spatial tasks, although allocentric memory was more compromised in the older than younger adult groups. Area familiarity within the environment was associated with improved landmark recognition and egocentric spatial processing in younger adults who were familiar with one area and in older adults. These results suggest a facilitatory role of environment familiarity on object recognition and spatial memory and may have implications for enhancing spatial memory in older adults.