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August 1989

Procedural Memory During Posttraumatic Amnesia in Survivors of Severe Closed Head InjuryImplications for Rehabilitation

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychology, University of Houston (Tex) (Dr Ewert and Ms Watson); the Division of Neurosurgery, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston (Dr Levin); and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Medical Center Del Oro Hospital, Houston (Dr Kalisky). Dr Ewert is now with HealthSouth Rehabilitation Center, Harahan, La.

Arch Neurol. 1989;46(8):911-916. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520440105027

• To investigate the possibility that learning of skills (ie, procedural memory) is preserved during posttraumatic amnesia, 16 amnesic survivors of severe closed head injury and 16 control subjects were studied. Procedural learning tasks included mirror reading, mazes, and a pursuit rotor task that involved tracking a rotating target. Declarative memory was assessed by testing recognition of the words used in mirror reading and a questionnaire concerning details of the previous testing session. Learning was evaluated on 3 consecutive days and a fourth session was scheduled after resolution of posttraumatic amnesia. Despite stable impairment of declarative memory during posttraumatic amnesia, the performance of headinjured patients improved across sessions on all procedural tasks and showed transfer to testing after resolution of posttraumatic amnesia.