This study tests the hypothesis that aging-induced cognitive permeation of sensorimotor functions contributes to adult age differences in spatial navigation performance. Virtual maze-like museums were projected in front of a treadmill. Sixteen 20-30-year-old men and sixteen 60-70-year-old men performed a way-finding task in city-block or variable topographies while walking with or without support. Walking support attenuated age-related decrements in navigational learning. Navigation load increased trunk-angle variability for older adults only. Age differences in spatial knowledge persisted despite perfect place-finding performance. City-block topography was easier than variable topography for younger adults only, indicating age-related differences in reliance on spatial relational learning. Attempts at supporting older adults' navigation performance should consider sensorimotor/cognitive interactions and qualitative differences in navigational activity.
(c) 2006 APA