Procedural memory during posttraumatic amnesia in survivors of severe closed head injury. Implications for rehabilitation

Arch Neurol. 1989 Aug;46(8):911-6. 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 head-injured patients improved across sessions on all procedural tasks and showed transfer to testing after resolution of posttraumatic amnesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amnesia / etiology*
  • Amnesia / rehabilitation
  • Confusion
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / psychology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Memory*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reading