Serial memory for landmarks encountered during route navigation

Authors: Hilton, C., Wiener, J. and Johnson, A.

Journal: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

ISSN: 1747-0218


The present study demonstrates similarities between route learning and classical tests of serial order memory. Here, we investigated serial memory for landmarks in a route learning task, in younger and older adults. We analysed data from a route learning task with 12 landmarks, reported by Hilton et al. (2021). Participants (88 younger and 77 older) learned a route using either a Fixed Learning (3 exposures to the route) or Flexible Learning (repeated exposures until successful navigation was achieved) procedure. Following route learning, participants completed Immediate Free Recall (IFR) and Free Reconstruction of Order (Free RoO) of the landmarks. We show clear acquisition of sequence memory for landmarks for both age groups, with Free RoO producing a bowed serial position curve. IFR produced recency effects but no primacy effects in fixed learning, with recency reduced following flexible learning for both age groups. Younger adults displayed a primacy bias for the first item recalled in both learning conditions, as did the older adults in the flexible learning condition. In contrast, older adults displayed a recency bias in the fixed learning condition. Evidence of contiguity in IFR was present only for younger adults in the flexible learning condition. Findings are broadly consistent with results from typical short-term list learning procedures and support the universality of sequence learning effects, which we demonstrate are generalisable to a navigation context.

Source: Manual