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Using contextual analysis to investigate the nature of spatial memory


The present study investigated the properties of episodic spatial memory by conducting contextual analysis on spatial memory tasks in a large sample of individuals (N = 778) between the ages of 18 and 92. The results suggest that episodic spatial memory as measured by a dot location task is not uniquely influenced by memory but is strongly influenced by fluid ability (Gf). The spatial memory–Gf relationship is evident and robust even when spatial memory is operationalized with a very simple single-dot location task, suggesting that allocation of attention across space may play a role in the relationship. Results also indicate that the spatial memory–Gf relations are not dependent on complexity of processing, because Gf has a similar magnitude of relations with a more complex version of the dot location task. Collectively, the results suggest that spatial memory likely represents some aspect of fluid intelligence and is not uniquely related to measures of verbal memory.

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This research was supported in part by NIA grant R37AG024270 from the National Institutes of Health to T.A.S.

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Correspondence to Karen L. Siedlecki.

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Siedlecki, K.L., Salthouse, T.A. Using contextual analysis to investigate the nature of spatial memory. Psychon Bull Rev 21, 721–727 (2014).

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  • Fluid ability
  • Memory
  • Spatial memory