Cognitive functions mature at different points in time between birth and adulthood. Of these functions, visuospatial skills, such as spatial memory and part-to-whole organization, have often been tested in children and adults but have been less frequently evaluated during adolescence. We studied visuospatial memory and ability during this critical developmental period, as well as the correlation between these abilities, in a large group of 330 participants (aged 11 to 20 years, 55% male). To assess visuospatial memory, the participants were asked to memorize and reproduce sequences of random locations within a grid using a computer. Visuospatial ability was tested using a variation of the Design Organization Test (DOT). In this paper-and-pencil test, the participants had one minute to reproduce as many visual patterns as possible using a numerical code. On the memory task, compared with younger participants, older participants correctly reproduced more locations overall and longer sequences of locations, made fewer mistakes and needed less time to reproduce the sequences. In the visuospatial ability task, the number of correctly reproduced patterns increased with age. We show that both visuospatial memory and ability improve significantly throughout adolescence and that performance on both tasks is significantly correlated.

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Applied Neuropsychology: Child
Department of Neuroscience

Burggraaf, R., Frens, M., Hooge, I., & van der Geest, J. (2017). Performance on tasks of visuospatial memory and ability: A cross-sectional study in 330 adolescents aged 11 to 20. Applied Neuropsychology: Child, 1–14. doi:10.1080/21622965.2016.1268960