Flexible spatial navigation depends on cognitive mapping, a function that declines with increasing age. In young adults, a brief period of postnavigation rest promotes the consolidation and integration of spatial memories into accurate cognitive maps. We examined (1) whether rest promotes spatial memory consolidation and integration in older adults; and (2) whether the magnitude of the rest benefit changes with increasing age. Young and older adults learned a route through a virtual environment, followed by a 10-minute delay comprising either wakeful rest or a perceptual task, and a subsequent cognitive mapping task, requiring the pointing to landmarks from different locations. Pointing accuracy was lower in the older than younger adults. However, there was a comparable rest-related enhancement in pointing accuracy in the 2 age groups. Together our findings suggest that (1) the age-related decline in cognitive mapping cannot be explained by increased consolidation interference in older adults; and (2) as we grow older, rest continues to support the consolidation and integration of spatial memories.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Neurobiology of Aging|
|Early online date||31 Aug 2016|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2016|