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Aging and KIBRA/WWC1 genotype affect spatial memory processes in a virtual navigation task

Authors

  • Nicolas W. Schuck,

    Corresponding author
    1. Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Center for Lifespan Psychology, 14195 Berlin, Germany
    2. Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany
    • Correspondence to: Nicolas W. Schuck, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin. E-mail: schuck@mpib-berlin.mpg.de

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  • Christian F. Doeller,

    1. Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6525 Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • Brit-Maren M. Schjeide,

    1. Department of Vertebrate Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Neuropsychiatric Genetics Group, 14195 Berlin, Germany
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  • Julia Schröder,

    1. Department of Vertebrate Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Neuropsychiatric Genetics Group, 14195 Berlin, Germany
    2. Evangelisches Geriatriezentrum Berlin, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 10117 Berlin, Germany
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  • Peter A. Frensch,

    1. Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany
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  • Lars Bertram,

    1. Department of Vertebrate Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Neuropsychiatric Genetics Group, 14195 Berlin, Germany
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  • Shu-Chen Li

    1. Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Center for Lifespan Psychology, 14195 Berlin, Germany
    2. Department of Psychology, TU Dresden, Section of Lifespan Developmental Neuroscience, 01062 Dresden, Germany
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ABSTRACT

Spatial navigation relies on multiple mnemonic mechanisms and previous work in younger adults has described two separate types of spatial memory. One type uses directional as well as boundary-related information for spatial memory and mainly implicates the hippocampal formation. The other type has been linked to directional and landmark-related information and primarily involves the striatum. Using a virtual reality navigation paradigm, we studied the impacts of aging and a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP rs17070145) of the KIBRA gene (official name: WWC1) on these memory forms. Our data showed that older adult's spatial learning was preferentially related to processing of landmark information, whereas processing of boundary information played a more prominent role in younger adults. Moreover, among older adults T-allele carriers of the examined KIBRA polymorphism showed better spatial learning compared to C homozygotes. Together these findings provide the first evidence for an effect of the KIBRA rs17070145 polymorphism on spatial memory in humans and age differences in the reliance on landmark and boundary-related spatial information. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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