How to enhance route learning and visuo-spatial working memory in aging: a training for residential care home residents

Micaela Mitolo, Erika Borella, Chiara Meneghetti, Elena Carbone, Francesca Pazzaglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This study aimed to assess the efficacy of a route-learning training in a group of older adults living in a residential care home. We verified the presence of training-specific effects in tasks similar to those trained – route-learning tasks – as well as transfer effects on related cognitive processes – visuo-spatial short-term memory (VSSTM; Corsi Blocks Test (CBT), forward version), visuo-spatial working memory (VSWM; CBT, backward version; Pathway Span Tasks; Jigsaw Puzzle Test) – and in self-report measures. The maintenance of training benefits was examined after 3 months. Method: Thirty 70–90-year-old residential care home residents were randomly assigned to the route-learning training group or to an active control group (involved in non-visuo-spatial activities). Results: The trained group performed better than the control group in the route-learning tasks, retaining this benefit 3 months later. Immediate transfer effects were also seen in visuo-spatial span tasks (i.e., CBT forward and backward version and Pathway Span Task); these benefits had been substantially maintained at the 3-month follow-up. Conclusion: These findings suggest that a training on route learning is a promising approach to sustain older adults’ environmental learning and some related abilities (e.g., VSSTM and VSWM), even in residential care home residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalAging and Mental Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2016


  • navigation abilities
  • older adults
  • residential care homes
  • Route-learning training
  • visuo-spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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