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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Sep;21(8):639-49. doi: 10.1017/S1355617715000764. Epub 2015 Sep 8.

Do Old Errors Always Lead to New Truths? A Randomized Controlled Trial of Errorless Goal Management Training in Brain-Injured Patients.

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1Radboud University,Donders Institute for Brain,Cognition and Behaviour,Nijmegen,The Netherlands.
4University of Padova,Department of General Psychology,Padova,Italy.


Both errorless learning (EL) and Goal Management Training (GMT) have been shown effective cognitive rehabilitation methods aimed at optimizing the performance on everyday skills after brain injury. We examine whether a combination of EL and GMT is superior to traditional GMT for training complex daily tasks in brain-injured patients with executive dysfunction. This was an assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial conducted in 67 patients with executive impairments due to brain injury of non-progressive nature (minimal post-onset time: 3 months), referred for outpatient rehabilitation. Individually selected everyday tasks were trained using 8 sessions of an experimental combination of EL and GMT or via conventional GMT, which follows a trial-and-error approach. Primary outcome measure was everyday task performance assessed after treatment compared to baseline. Goal attainment scaling, rated by both trainers and patients, was used as secondary outcome measure. EL-GMT improved everyday task performance significantly more than conventional GMT (adjusted difference 15.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] [4.52, 26.35]; Cohen's d=0.74). Goal attainment, as scored by the trainers, was significantly higher after EL-GMT compared to conventional GMT (mean difference 7.34, 95% CI [2.99, 11.68]; Cohen's d=0.87). The patients' goal attainment scores did not differ between the two treatment arms (mean difference 3.51, 95% CI [-1.41, 8.44]). Our study is the first to show that preventing the occurrence of errors during executive strategy training enhances the acquisition of everyday activities. A combined EL-GMT intervention is a valuable contribution to cognitive rehabilitation in clinical practice.


Activities of daily living; Chronic brain injury; Executive function; Learning; Randomized controlled trial; Rehabilitation

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