The Relation Between Spatial Navigation and Associative Memory in the Older Adult Population
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Navigation strategy and spatial navigation aim to explain how humans engage with the world around them. They are also both a way to understand cognitive differences between age populations. Associative memory is the ability to learn and remember unrelated ideas. The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between spatial navigation and associative memory in the older adult population. Part of the study includes using volumetric data from structural MRI to analyze spatial navigation abilities and memory performance. This study consists of twenty previously screened older adult subjects. The subjects then go through a series of tasks: the Associative Memory Task, the Route Learning Maze, the Y-Maze, and the Recognition tasks, as well as two neuropsychological assessments (MOCA and MAS). Data collected from these tasks are then analyzed, along with the subjects’ structural MRI data from previous years. The major findings of this experiment were that landmark recognition correlates with directional association for critical landmarks, allocentric navigation preference yields higher associative memory performance, and an increase in hippocampal volume correlates with directional association and associative memory. Implications of this study may help identify navigational deficits and associative memory deficiencies in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and these implications may lead to the identification of key neural markers for the discovery of potential therapies.