The impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on procedural memory has received significantly less attention than declarative memory. Although to date studies on procedural memory have yielded mixed findings, many rehabilitation protocols (e.g., errorless learning) rely on the procedural memory system, and assume that it is relatively intact. The aim of the current study was to determine whether individuals with TBI are impaired on a task of procedural memory as a group, and to examine the presence of individual differences in performance. We administered to a sample of 36 individuals with moderate-severe TBI and 40 healthy comparisons (HCs) the rotary pursuit task, and then examined their rate of learning, as well as their retention of learning. Our analyses revealed that while individuals with TBI spent a significantly shorter amount of time on target as a group, they did not retain significantly less procedural learning, and as a group their rate of learning was not different from HCs. However, there were high individual differences in both groups, indicating that some individuals might not be able to take advantage of treatment methods designed to leverage intact procedural memory system. Future work is needed to better assess and characterize procedural memory in individuals with TBI across a larger battery of tasks in experimental and clinical setting as memory and learning status may predict rehabilitation success.
Rigon A, Klooster NB, Crooks S and Duff MC (2019) Procedural Memory Following Moderate-Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: Group Performance and Individual Differences on the Rotary Pursuit Task. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 13:251. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00251