Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

MS Experimental Psychology




Amy S. Joh, Ph.D

Committee Member

Kelly Goedert, Ph.D

Committee Member

Andrew Simon, Ph.D


visual spatial, age-related changes, block design task, aging, practice


Visual spatial skills allow individuals to understand the relationship between objects, people, and the environment for their everyday activities. Visual spatial abilities incorporate visual, motor, and cognitive components, each of which changes across the lifespan. The current study examined the effects of age-related changes and practice type on visual spatial performance. Participants between 40 and 79 years of age were asked to complete the Block Design Task (BDT) by using nine blocks to recreate various designs. Both accuracy and latency were measured to examine these changes. Task difficulty and practice type were varied and cognitive abilities were measured via MMSE (Mini Mental State Examination) to examine which variables contribute to age-related changes in visual spatial skills. The results showed age-related changes in both accuracy and latency. Age-related changes in accuracy were influenced by task difficulty and time constraints. Meanwhile, age-related changes in latency were only influenced by task difficulty. On easy trials, younger and older participants performed similarly. However, on difficult trials, older participants required significantly longer durations with slightly lower accuracy scores. In contrast, practice type and MMSE did not influence accuracy or latency. However, because our sample was made up of individuals with high education levels, such as Seton Hall professors, we saw maintained cognitive abilities and increased visual spatial performance compared to prior research. Together, these findings suggest that most age-related changes were related to task difficulty, however, participants’ occupation and education level may aid maintain cognitive and visual spatial abilities.