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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Naftali Raz


Aging is associated with declines in spatial navigation skills. In this study, I used structural equation modeling (SEM) to explore the contributions of variances in regional brain volume (prefrontal cortices, basal ganglia, and medial temporal lobe), processing speed, working memory and episodic memory to age-related differences in spatial navigation. As expected, advanced age was associated with smaller regional brain volumes and reduced cognitive performance. Once cognitive factors were taken into account, the direct effects of age on navigational skill was no longer significant. Thus, age-related difference in spatial navigation skill could be explained by individual differences in the cognitive factors. More specifically, age-related slowing of processing and reduction in episodic memory accounted for the age-related difference in spatial navigational skill. However, the variance in regional volumes did not mediate age-related difference in navigational skill.

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