Description): Human beings are able to become skilled at most complex tasks (e.g., driving) because they learn to automatize portions of the task. Despite the importance of automaticity in skill development. few studies have systematically investigated automatic process development in brain injured populations. Search tasks have been used in the laboratory to study the development of automatic processes. The proposed study will use a visually-based search task to examine skill acquisition and automatic process development in a severe closed-head injured (CHI) population. Because the automatization of task components is integral to developing skilled performances, a theoretical understanding of automatic process development after severe CHI should have important implications for remediation procedures. Across several sessions of training, CHI participants and matched controls will complete a semantic category visual search task in consistent mapping (CM) and varied mapping (VM) training situations. The investigators have shown that the CM training condition results in dramatic performance improvements and the development of an automatic attention response (AAR). VM training, on the other hand, results in little performance improvement and the continued reliance on attention-demanding or controlled processes. By comparing performances in the CM and VM conditions, the investigators propose to be able to evaluate the rate and acquisition of skilled visual search performance following a severe CHI. Transfer conditions will be used to test for general, task-related learning and for the development of an AAR, independent of general performance improvement. These data are expected to provide initial evidence for the ability of severe CHI participants to acquire general, task-related skills and develop an AAR in a visual search situation. Further studies can then examine, for example, transfer of automatized task components to more complex tasks, and ability to modify previously learned and automatized processes (i.e., """"""""old habits"""""""").

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Study Section
Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
Program Officer
Hanson, James W
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Washington State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Wright, Matthew J; Schmitter-Edgecombe, Maureen; Woo, Ellen (2010) Verbal memory impairment in severe closed head injury: the role of encoding and consolidation. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 32:728-36
Wright, Matthew J; Woo, Ellen; Schmitter-Edgecombe, Maureen et al. (2009) The Item-Specific Deficit Approach to evaluating verbal memory dysfunction: rationale, psychometrics, and application. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 31:790-802
Pavawalla, Shital P; Schmitter-Edgecombe, Maureen (2006) Long-term retention of skilled visual search following severe traumatic brain injury. J Int Neuropsychol Soc 12:802-11
Schmitter-Edgecombe, Maureen; Marks, William; Wright, Matthew J et al. (2004) Retrieval inhibition in directed forgetting following severe closed-head injury. Neuropsychology 18:104-14
Schmitter-Edgecombe, Maureen; Wright, Matthew J (2004) Event-based prospective memory following severe closed-head injury. Neuropsychology 18:353-61
Schmitter-Edgecombe, Maureen; Wright, Matthew J (2003) Content memory and temporal order memory for performed activities after severe closed-head injury. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 25:933-48
Schmitter-Edgecombe, Maureen; Chaytor, Naomi S (2003) Self-ordered pointing performance following severe closed-head injury. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 25:918-32
Nissley, Heather M; Schmitter-Edgecombe, Maureen (2002) Perceptually based implicit learning in severe closed-head injury patients. Neuropsychology 16:111-22
Simpson, Amy; Schmitter-Edgecombe, Maureen (2002) Prediction of employment status following traumatic brain injury using a behavioural measure of frontal lobe functioning. Brain Inj 16:1075-91
Schmitter-Edgecombe, M; Beglinger, L (2001) Acquisition of skilled visual search performance following severe closed-head injury. J Int Neuropsychol Soc 7:615-30

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