Application of the spacing effect to improve learning and memory for functional tasks in traumatic brain injury: A pilot study

Yael Goverover, Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla, Frank G. Hillary, Nancy Chiaravalloti, John Deluca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-548
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009



  • Activities of daily living
  • Brain injuries
  • Cognition disorders
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Cognitive impairment
  • spacing effect
  • functional performance
  • daily function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy

Cite this