AuthorNewman, Mary Catherine
Committee ChairKaszniak, Alfred W.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of the present investigation was to compare the performance patterns of healthy younger and older women and men on a Large Space Spatial Memory Task, and a Small Space test of Immediate and Delayed Free Recall, Immediate Recognition, and Immediate and Delayed Spatial Recall. The major findings of the study were that (1) older adults who were similar in ability to their younger counterparts on verbal (item) Free Recall and Recognition Memory demonstrated impaired Spatial Memory on both the Small and Large Space Tasks; (2) Spatial Memory on the Small Space Task was impaired even when Free Recall performance was entered into the analysis as a covariate; (3) only the younger group demonstrated task-general learning, reflected in improved performance from the Practice to the first Learning Trial; (4) learning rates on the Large Space Task were not significantly different; (5) spatial representations of both groups remained stable even in the absence of some environmental cues (Probe Trials), and when the cues were rotated relative to the walls of the environment (Performance Trials), suggesting an encoding, rather than a retrieval deficit in older individuals; (6) similar performance on tests of Free Recall and Recognition Memory in the presence of impaired Spatial Memory suggests particular vulnerability of spatial memory to the healthy aging process; (7) distinct patterns of performance on the Large and Small Space Tasks, in addition to the results of a factor analysis, indicate that the demands of the two tasks are quite different: these patterns suggest that performance on the Small Space Task may reflect gene ral memory skills and perhaps intelligence level, whereas performance on the Large Space Task may reflect more purely spatial memory. However, ceiling effects on the Large Space Task may have obscured some group differences. Therefore, further investigation of these effects will be required. The current findings are discussed in terms of possible neurobiological substrates, and provide focus for future investigations of brain-behavior relationships.