Research Reports - Retrieval practice as an effective memory strategy in children and adolescents with traumatic brain injury

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015 Apr;96(4):742-5

Coyne JH(1), Borg JM(2), DeLuca J(3), Glass L(2), Sumowski JF(4)

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether retrieval practice (RP) is a more effective
memory strategy than restudy in children and adolescents with traumatic brain
injury (TBI).
DESIGN: Three × two within-subjects experiment: 3 (learning condition: massed
restudy [MR], spaced restudy [SR], retrieval practice [RP]) × 2 (stimulus type:
verbal paired associates [VPAs] and face-name pairs [FNPs]). The dependent
measure was delayed recall of VPAs and FNPs.
SETTING: Subacute pediatric neurorehabilitation center.
PARTICIPANTS: Pediatric survivors of TBI (N=15) aged 8 to 16 years with
below-average memory.
INTERVENTION: During RP, participants were quizzed on to-be-learned information
(VPAs and FNPs) shortly after it was presented, such that they practiced
retrieval during the learning phase. MR consisted of repeated restudy (tantamount
to cramming). SR consisted of restudy trials separated in time (ie, distributed
learning).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Delayed recall of 24 VPAs and 24 FNPs after a 25-minute
delay. VPAs and FNPs were equally divided across 3 learning conditions (16 per
condition).
RESULTS: There was a large main effect of learning condition on delayed recall
(P<.001; ηp(2)=.84), with better mean recall of VPAs and FNPs studied through RP
(6.23±1.39) relative to MR (3.60±1.53; P<.001) and SR (4.77±1.39; P<.001).
Moreover, RP was the single best learning strategy for every participant.
CONCLUSIONS: Memory problems and related academic learning difficulties are
common after pediatric TBI. Herein, we identify RP as a promising and simple
strategy to support learning and improve memory in children and adolescents with
TBI. Our experimental findings were quite robust and set the stage for subsequent
randomized controlled trials of RP in pediatric TBI.

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