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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2015 Jul;41(4):1253-61. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000091. Epub 2014 Dec 22.

Test-enhanced learning versus errorless learning in aphasia rehabilitation: testing competing psychological principles.

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Research Department.
Psychology Department, Kent State University.


Because individuals with acquired language disorders are frequently unable to reliably access the names of common everyday objects (i.e., naming impairment), rehabilitation efforts often focus on improving naming. The present study compared 2 rehabilitation strategies for naming impairment, reflecting contradictory prescriptions derived from different theoretical principles. The prescription derived from psychological research on test-enhanced learning advocates providing patients opportunities to retrieve target names from long-term memory (i.e., retrieval practice) in the course of treatment. In contrast, the errorless learning approach derived from cognitive rehabilitation research eschews retrieval practice in favor of methods that minimize naming errors, and thus the potential for error learning, in the course of treatment. The present study directly compared these approaches and showed that, despite superior (and errorless) performance during errorless treatment, treatment that prioritized retrieval practice produced greater retention 1-day and 1-week following treatment. These findings have implications for clinical practice, as well as theoretical accounts of lexical access and test-enhanced learning.

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