The newsletter of the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University

Spatial Memory definition

Spatial memory is a catchall phrase used to refer to memory for spatial information, such as the geographical layout of your hometown or the interior of a friend's house. It can be assessed by using a neuropsychological test which requires remembering the position of items or learning how to navigate through a maze.

Almost people process spatial information by right brain

Because many people process spatial information using the right side of their brain, damage to the right side of the brain can often cause impairments in spatial memory and in the ability to learn and process spatial information. Usually, damage limited to the left side of the brain causes little disruption in spatial memory (but may disrupt verbal memory). This left-right distinction is not true of everyone, though.

Additionally, some people naturally tend to process information verbally, while others naturally tend to process information spatially or visually (e.g. through pictures). An individual who tends to process information verbally may score relatively poorly on a test of spatial memory -- even though there is nothing "wrong" with that person's memory. When testing a person's memory, it is better to consider both verbal and visual memory to get a complete understanding of that person's memory abilities.

by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain