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Age Differences in Extrapersonal Orientation as Measured by Performance on the Locomotor Maze

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 November 2010

Jocelyn B. Aubrey
Affiliation:
University of Alberta
Allen R. Dobbs
Affiliation:
University of Alberta

Abstract

Sixteen healthy community residing elderly adults and 16 university students completed the Locomotor Maze test of extrapersonal orientation. They were given maps with nine location dots in a 3 × 3 matrix that corresponded to nine red discs on the floor of the experimental room. Participants were asked to walk the path outlined on each map without turning the map. Six maps were presented with paths increasing one segment in length with each subsequent map. The older adults committed more errors on the longer maps and took more time to make direction choices than young people. Because participants were free to consult the map throughout each trial, reliance on memory for landmaks and routes that characterizes earlier research was eliminated. It is suggested that the decreased performance shown by elderly adults on this task may be due to difficulty with working memory and mental rotation or increased field dependence.

Résumé

Seize adultes plus vieux, en bonne santé, et vivant dans la communauté et seize étudiants universitaires ont complété un test d'orientation dans un labyrinthe: le ‘Locomotor Maze’. Les participants ont reçu des cartes marquées de neuf points de repère représentant neuf disques rouges disposés sur le plancher du laboratoire. La carte, comme le plancher, était carrée. Les participants devaient suivre le parcours inscrit sur chaque carte mais sans la faire pivoter. Chaque participant a reçu une série de six cartes portant des trajets de longueurs différentes. La première carte portait le trajet le plus court et chaque carte subséquente comprenait un segment de plus. Les participants plus vieux ont commis plus d'erreurs sur les parcours les plus longs et ils ont mis davantage de temps à choisir les directions à suivre que les jeunes. Contrairement aux recherches précédentes, les participants pouvaient consulter la carte au cours de l'épreuve éliminant ainsi une dépendance sur la mémoire des points de repère et des trajets. Les auteurs suggèrent que les résultats obtenus par les participants plus vieux peuvent être dus aux difficultés de la mémoire de travail et de rotation mentale ou à une plus grande dépendence de champ (field dependence).

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 1989

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