Ecological measures of everyday spatial memory - an overview of everyday spatial memory problems, factors of influence and assessment methods
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This review considers the use of everyday spatial memory, everyday problems with spatial memory, the neurological and psychological causes of these problems, and methods that can be used to assess everyday spatial memory. Everyday spatial memory problems involve ‘getting lost’ or ‘forgetting where to find car keys’. Specific everyday spatial memory problems are categorized into groups based on whether the problems concern small or large scale, short or long term, and static or dynamic spatial memory. Current evidence about the effects of age, gender, neurological damage, visual impairments, stress and mood on spatial memory performance is reviewed. It appears that age and hippocampal damage are factors that may influence all listed everyday problems, whereas other factors such as visual impairments and mood may cause only specific spatial memory problems. Everyday spatial memory can be measured by means of surveys and questionnaires to obtain information from subjective reports. Experimental research on everyday spatial memory behaviour can be carried out in virtual environments (VEs) or in real world environments. The validity, advantages and disadvantages of surveys, VE and real environment studies are discussed. Based on the evidence provided by current studies and recent VE developments, we consider virtual reality as the most appropriate and valid method to study everyday spatial memory.