Publication Details

Hilton, C., Miellet, S., Slattery, T. J. & Wiener, J. (2019). Are age-related deficits in route learning related to control of visual attention?. Psychological Research: an international journal of perception, attention, memory and action, online first 1-12.


Typically aged adults show reduced ability to learn a route compared to younger adults. In this experiment, we investigate the role of visual attention through eye-tracking and engagement of attentional resources in age-related route learning deficits. Participants were shown a route through a realistic virtual environment before being tested on their route knowledge. Younger and older adults were compared on their gaze behaviour during route learning and on their reaction time to a secondary probe task as a measure of attentional engagement. Behavioural results show a performance deficit in route knowledge for older adults compared to younger adults, which is consistent with previous research. We replicated previous findings showing that reaction times to the secondary probe task were longer at decision points than non-decision points, indicating stronger attentional engagement at navigationally relevant locations. However, we found no differences in attentional engagement and no differences for a range of gaze measures between age groups. We conclude that age-related changes in route learning ability are not reflected in changes in control of visual attention or regulation of attentional engagement.



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