Egocentric and Allocentric Spatial Memory in Mild Cognitive Impairment with Real-World and Virtual Navigation Tasks: A Systematic Review

Giuseppe Riva, Claudia Repetto, Cosimo Tuena, Valentina Mancuso, Chiara Stramba-Badiale, Elisa Pedroli, Marco Stramba-Badiale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Spatial navigation is the ability to estimate one's position on the basis of environmental and self-motion cues. Spatial memory is the cognitive substrate underlying navigation and relies on two different reference frames: egocentric and allocentric. These spatial frames are prone to decline with aging and impairment is even more pronounced in Alzheimer's disease (AD) or in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Objective: To conduct a systematic review of experimental studies investigating which MCI population and tasks are used to evaluate spatial memory and how allocentric and egocentric deficits are impaired in MCI after navigation. Methods: PRISMA and PICO guidelines were applied to carry out the systematic search. Down and Black checklist was used to assess methodological quality. Results: Our results showed that amnestic MCI and AD pathology are the most investigated typologies; both egocentric and allocentric memory are impaired in MCI individuals, and MCI due to AD biomarkers has specific encoding and retrieval impairments; secondly, spatial navigation is principally investigated with the hidden goal task (virtual and real-world version), and among studies involving virtual reality, the privileged setting consists of non-immersive technology; thirdly, despite subtle differences, real-world and virtual versions showed good overlap for the assessment of MCI spatial memory. Conclusion: Considering that MCI is a subclinical entity with potential risk for conversion to dementia, investigating spatial memory deficits with navigation tasks might be crucial to make accurate diagnosis and rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-116
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • embodiment
  • virtual reality
  • navigation
  • spatial memory
  • mild cognitive impairment


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