In the last decade, several cases affected by Developmental Topographical Disorientation (DTD) have been described. DTD consists of a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting the ability to orient in the environment despite well-preserved cognitive functions, and in the absence of a brain lesion or other neurological or psychiatric conditions. Described cases showed different impairments in navigational skills ranging from topographic memory deficits to landmark agnosia. All cases lacked a mental representation of the environment that would allow them to use high-order spatial orientation strategies. In addition to the single case studies, a group study performed in Canada showed that the disorder is more widespread than imagined. The present work intends to investigate the occurrence of the disorder in 1,698 young Italian participants. The sample is deliberately composed of individuals aged between 18 and 35 years to exclude people who could manifest the loss of the ability to navigate as a result of an onset of cognitive decline. The sample was collected between 2016 and 2019 using the Qualtrics platform, by which the Familiarity and Spatial Cognitive Style Scale and anamnestic interview were administered. The data showed that the disorder is present in 3% of the sample and that the sense of direction is closely related to town knowledge, navigational strategies adopted, and gender. In general, males use more complex navigational strategies than females, although DTD is more prevalent in males than in females, in line with the already described cases. Finally, the paper discusses which protective factors can reduce DTD onset and which intervention measures should be implemented to prevent the spread of navigational disorders, which severely impact individuals' autonomy and social relationships.
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