The effects of age on featural and geometric cue use during reorientation in an immersive virtual reality environment

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Siemens, Megan
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This study examined the effects of age on the use of featural and geometric cues for reorientation – the first step of navigation. This study used a three-dimensional Virtual Reality (VR) spatial reorientation task as well as traditional assessment tests to examine cognitive skills and computer usage. Participants received training to find a target location in a rectangular room (geometry) with distinctive objects situated at each corner (features) and were subsequently presented with tests selectively manipulating these cues. Results suggest age may affect adults’ ability to incidentally encode geometry, as well as their ability to use distal featural information. Performance on the assessment tests was not related to the use of geometric or featural cues in the VR task, although familiarity with computers may facilitate cue use. These results are important as they suggest geometry, the foundation of our spatial representation, may be selectively affected by age.
Orientation, Aging, Navigation, Cue use, Reorientation task