Spatial navigation is a crucial ability for our daily lives. And because of such importance, it is not surprising that failures in navigation (being lost in places) is often the first sign or symptom of dementia that alerts people to seek clinical help. To successfully navigate, external spatial information such as coordinates (absolute location) or landmarks (relative location), as well as internal sensory (proprioceptive) information such as visual flow or vestibular input have to be integrated to compute one’s position and to maintain orientation. In the past decade, studies have begun to uncover a link between working memory capacity and one’s sense of direction. However, the literature also has many mixed reports regarding the role of working memory in spatial navigation and wayfinding capability. Here we aim to fill this gap by taking one’s frame of reference, an important navigational representation that the literature has not explored much, into account to dissociate the role of visuospatial and verbal working memory involvements in allocentric and egocentric navigational strategies, respectively. The purpose of this proposal is to first investigate the interaction between working memory capacity (visual vs. verbal) and frame of reference (egocentric vs. allocentric) that determines human’s spatial cognition and navigational ability. This will be done behaviorally and electrophysiologically in order to provide behavioral- and bio-markers for declines in spatial cognition and navigational ability. We will also investigate the relationship between age progression and one’s preference in egocentric frame of preference. These findings will then be used to design optimal training strategies that targets the interaction between working memory and spatial cognition in poor navigators and aging population, thereby improving spatial and navigational abilities in populations that suffer poor sense of direction or impaired navigational ability, respectively.
|Effective start/end date||8/1/17 → 7/31/18|