Effect of aging differs for memory of object identity and object position within a spatial context

Tammy Tran, Kaitlyn E. Tobin, Sophia H. Block, Vyash Puliyadi, Michela Gallagher, Arnold Bakker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There has been considerable focus on investigating age-related memory changes in cognitively healthy older adults, in the absence of neurodegenerative disorders. Previous studies have reported age-related domain-specific changes in older adults, showing increased difficulty encoding and processing object information but minimal to no impairment in processing spatial information compared with younger adults. However, few of these studies have examined age-related changes in the encoding of concurrently presented object and spatial stimuli, specifically the integration of both spatial and nonspatial (object) information. To more closely resemble real-life memory encoding and the integration of both spatial and nonspatial information, the current study developed a new experimental paradigm with novel environments that allowed for the placement of different objects in different positions within the environment. The results show that older adults have decreased performance in recognizing changes of the object position within the spatial context but no significant differences in recognizing changes in the identity of the object within the spatial context compared with younger adults. These findings suggest there may be potential age-related differences in the mechanisms underlying the representations of complex environments and furthermore, the integration of spatial and nonspatial information may be differentially processed relative to independent and isolated representations of object and spatial information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-247
Number of pages9
JournalLearning and Memory
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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