Research Topic

Spatial Navigation and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

About this Research Topic

Spatial navigation is one of the most complex cognitive skills for humans to master and it is fundamental for everyday survival. Children and adolescents with navigational impairments lose their spatial orientation in both familiar and unfamiliar places, are unable to perceive and identify familiar buildings ...

Spatial navigation is one of the most complex cognitive skills for humans to master and it is fundamental for everyday survival. Children and adolescents with navigational impairments lose their spatial orientation in both familiar and unfamiliar places, are unable to perceive and identify familiar buildings and landscapes, and often lose the route to their destination as they are not able to determine in which direction they should proceed to reach their goal at any given moment. Spatial navigation is a multisensory process requiring a wide repertoire of cognitive abilities, such as attention, memory, perception, and decision-making, and it is well known that impairment of one or more of these abilities negatively affects this ability. Thus, it is not surprising that even a slight delay in the development of one of the cognitive functions involved in spatial navigation may result in an inability for someone to appropriately engage in solitary activities in their communities and beyond and
consequently in a reduction in overall quality of life.

In this Research Topic, we aim to further the understanding of how the development of spatial navigation skills in children and adolescents is dependent on the development of other cognitive domains, in particular executive functioning. The term executive functioning refers to a series of higher cognitive skills, fundamental for the proper functioning of daily activities, and for the child’s learning of a series of skills that allow a healthy and functional development. A deficit in executive functioning can lead to poor attention, planning difficulties, difficulty in generating and implementing strategies aimed at achieving a goal and inability to use feedback from the environment. It is widely recognized that deficits in executive functioning play a pivotal role in explaining the cognitive deficits exhibited by children with neurodevelopmental disorders. However, to date few studies have focused on spatial navigation ability in children with neurodevelopment disorders including ADHD, Learning disorders, Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Down and Williams syndrome. Investigating spatial navigation in children affected by selective neurodevelopmental impairments may shed some light on the essential factors for the proper development of spatial navigation skills.

This Research Topic welcomes original research articles that report primary and unpublished studies on neurodevelopmental disorders and navigational abilities. Case report articles that report particular cases of children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disorders that present impairments and difficulties on navigational abilities, skills and memory. Systematic review articles that present a synthesis of previous research on neurodevelopmental disorders and navigational abilities that uses systematic and clearly defined methods to identify, categorize, analyse and report aggregated evidence on this specific topic. And finally, review and mini review articles focused on aspects of a current area of investigation and its recent developments that present a complete overview of the state of the art and do not merely summarize the literature.

Submissions expanding upon the following themes are also strongly encouraged:

Spatial Navigation and Attention deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) :
A pathological core of the ADHD syndrome are deficits in executive functioning so studies of spatial navigation in children with ADHD could reveal crucial insights.

Spatial Navigation and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):
Assessments of the navigational abilities in children with ASD has revealed heterogeneous findings, with studies finding impairments, enhancements and no significant differences in navigational skills. These heterogeneous findings may be due to high interindividual differences in aspects of executive functioning in children with ASD.

Spatial Navigation and Learning Disorder:
Children with specific learning disorder exhibit impairments in crucial aspects of executive function involved in correct navigation competence, including selective attention modulation processes, working memory, and shifting and inhibitory control.

Spatial Navigation and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD):
Children with DCD showed impairments on nonverbal tests of executive-loaded working memory, fluency, inhibition, visual shape perception, position in space and design copying.

Spatial Navigation, Down Syndrome (DS) and Williams Syndrome (WS):
Children affected by WS and DS have specific impairments in different areas that support the development of navigational skills. We are interested in comparing how these selective executive function deficits unique to WS or DS children impact their navigational skills.

Spatial Navigation and Motor disorders in Cerebral Palsy:
Children with Cerebral Palsy may show impairments in topographic memory due to their type of motor disabilities. Investigating spatial cognition in this population is crucial taking into account the relationship between this skill and the participation in social environments. We are interested in all research focused on the relevance of spatial cognition in the quality of life of children with cerebral palsy and motor disorders.

Photo credits: Ghinzo on Pixabay


Keywords: Spatial Navigation, Executive Functioning, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Children, Adolescents


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

16 January 2021 Manuscript
15 February 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

16 January 2021 Manuscript
15 February 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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