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How do old dogs learn new tricks: Teaching a technological skill to brain injured people.
Wilson, B.A., Baddeley, A.D. & Cockburn, J.M.
Cortex, 25, 115-119.
Year of publication:
Little is known about the way people learn technological skills. This investigation was carried out to see how 100 brain injured, 50 controls and 2 amnesic patients performed on a task requiring them to learn a six-step programme for an electronic memory aid. Performance was correlated with other measures of memory to determine whether the technological skill was similar to a procedural learning task, a spatial memory task, a visual task, a verbal task or an amalgam of these. All controls but only 59% of the patients learned the task within three trials. The two amnesic patients also failed to learn the new skill. There was a high correlation between overall performance on a standardized test of everyday memory (the Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test) but little evidence that the technological skill was similar to a procedural learning task; nor was it specifically related to visual, verbal or spatial memory. It is concluded that a combination of skills is required to learn the technological task. Implications for the concept of procedural learning are discussed.