Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

Brief Communications

Retrieval practice: A simple strategy for improving memory after traumatic brain injury

JAMES F. SUMOWSKIa1a2 c1, HALI G. WOODa1, NANCY CHIARAVALLOTIa1a2, GLENN R. WYLIEa1a2, JEANNIE LENGENFELDERa1a2 and JOHN DELUCAa1a2a3

a1 Kessler Foundation Research Center, West Orange, New Jersey

a2 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, UMDNJ–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey

a3 Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, UMDNJ –New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey

Abstract

Memory impairment is common following traumatic brain injury (TBI), but interventions to improve memory in persons with TBI have been ineffective. Retrieval practice is a robust memory strategy among healthy undergraduates, whereby practice retrieving information shortly after it is presented leads to better delayed recall than simple restudy. In a verbal paired associate paradigm, we investigated the effect of retrieval practice relative to massed and spaced restudy on delayed recall in 14 persons with chronic memory impairment following a TBI and 14 age-matched healthy controls. A significant learning condition (massed restudy, spaced restudy, retrieval practice) by group (TBI, healthy) interaction emerged, whereby only healthy controls benefited from spaced restudy (i.e., distributed learning) over massed restudy, but both groups greatly benefited from retrieval practice over massed and spaced restudy. That is, retrieval practice greatly improves memory in persons with TBI, even when other mnemonic strategies (e.g., distributed learning) are less effective. (JINS, 2010, 16, 1147–1150.)

(Received January 10 2010)

(Reviewed August 10 2010)

(Accepted August 19 2010)

Correspondence:

c1 Correspondence and reprint requests to: James F. Sumowski, PhD, Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Laboratory, Kessler Foundation Research Center, 300 Executive Drive, Suite 10, West Orange, New Jersey 07052. Email: jsumowski@kesslerfoundation.org