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Research Article  |   September 2009
Application of the Spacing Effect to Improve Learning and Memory for Functional Tasks in Traumatic Brain Injury: A Pilot Study
Author Affiliations
  • Yael Goverover, PhD, OT, is Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, 35 West 4th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10012, and Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Center, West Orange, NJ; yg243@nyu.edu
  • Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond
  • Frank G. Hillary, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and Kessler Foundation Research Center, West Orange, NJ
  • Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, is Director, Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Lab, Kessler Foundation Research Center, West Orange, NJ
  • John DeLuca, PhD, ABPP, is Vice President for Research, Kessler Foundation Research Center, West Orange, NJ, and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/New Jersey Medical School, Newark
Article Information
Neurologic Conditions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Treatment Effects
Research Article   |   September 2009
Application of the Spacing Effect to Improve Learning and Memory for Functional Tasks in Traumatic Brain Injury: A Pilot Study
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2009, Vol. 63, 543-548. doi:10.5014/ajot.63.5.543
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2009, Vol. 63, 543-548. doi:10.5014/ajot.63.5.543
Abstract

Research has indicated that many people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience learning and memory difficulties because of impairments in the initial acquisition of information. We examined a strategy, the spacing effect, known to enhance new learning in a laboratory setting in healthy control participants (HCs) and in people with TBI. The spacing effect indicates that information is learned better when presentation trials are distributed over time (spaced presentation) rather than consecutively (massed presentation). In this study, we examined the application of the spacing effect in improving functional tasks. We used a within-subject design and included 10 participants with TBI and 15 HCs. In both the TBI and the HC groups, material learned under the spaced learning condition was recalled better than that learned under massed learning conditions. These results provide initial evidence supporting the use of the spacing effect to improve new learning of functional tasks for people with TBI.