Age differences in the formation and use of cognitive maps

Giuseppe Iaria, Liana Palermo, Giorgia Committeri, Jason J S Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Topographical orientation relies on the integrity of several cognitive functions and different strategies that individuals may adopt while navigating in the environment. Although previous studies have shown an age-related decline in navigational ability, these have not clarified the precise function or strategy that is affected. We hypothesized that aging may have an adverse effect on the ability to form and use a 'cognitive map', a mental representation of the environment. We had young and older participants solve a navigational task in a virtual environment designed to assess cognitive map use. Older participants required more time to form a cognitive map of the environment than young individuals and required more time and made more errors when subsequently using the cognitive map for orientation. These results suggest that decreased efficacy in both forming and using cognitive maps makes a significant contribution to the age-related decline in orientation skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-191
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 23 2009


  • Aging
  • Navigation
  • Topographical orientation
  • Virtual environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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