Egocentric and allocentric spatial memory in healthy aging: performance on real-world tasks

Although normal aging has been related to several cognitive difficulties, other processes have been studied less, such as spatial memory. Our aim was to compare egocentric and allocentric memory in an elderly population using ecological tasks. Twenty-eight cognitively unimpaired participants performed Egocentric and Allocentric Spatial Memory Tasks, as well as Spatial Span from CANTAB, Benton's Judge of Line Orientation test (JoLO), and Montreal Cognitive Assessment test (MoCA). The results revealed that younger participants showed better performance than older participants on both the Egocentric and Allocentric Spatial Memory Tasks, although only the Egocentric test was able to discriminate between younger, middle, and older elderly participants. Learning effect was found in Allocentric Spatial Memory Task in younger and older groups, but not in the middle group. Allocentric and egocentric performance was not related to other visuospatial neuropsychological scores and gender did not influence performance in any task. Egocentric and Allocentric Spatial Memory Tasks may be useful tools in early screening for cognitive decline, as they are able to detect age differences in the cognitive unimpaired elderly population.