A systematic investigation of navigation impairment in chronic stroke patients: Evidence for three distinct types

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In a recent systematic review, Claessen and van der Ham (2017) have analyzed the types of navigation impairment in the single-case study literature. Three dissociable types related to landmarks, locations, and paths were identified. This recent model as well as previous models of navigation impairment have never been verified in a systematic manner. The aim of the current study was thus to investigate the prevalence of landmark-based, location-based, and path-based navigation impairment in a large sample of stroke patients.


Navigation ability of 77 stroke patients in the chronic phase and 60 healthy participants was comprehensively evaluated using the Virtual Tübingen test, which contains twelve subtasks addressing various aspects of knowledge about landmarks, locations, and paths based on a newly learned virtual route. Participants also filled out the Wayfinding Questionnaire to allow for making a distinction between stroke patients with and without significant subjective navigation-related complaints.


Analysis of responses on the Wayfinding Questionnaire indicated that 33 of the 77 participating stroke patients had significant navigation-related complaints. An examination of their performance on the Virtual Tübingen test established objective evidence for navigation impairment in 27 patients. Both landmark-based and path-based navigation impairment occurred in isolation, while location-based navigation impairment was only found along with the other two types.


The current study provides the first empirical support for the distinction between landmark-based, location-based, and path-based navigation impairment. Future research relying on other assessment instruments of navigation ability might be helpful to further validate this distinction.

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