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Visuospatial Learning in Traumatic Brain Injury: An Examination of Impairments using the Computerised Austin Maze Task

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2015

Cynthia A. Honan*
Affiliation:
School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Moving Ahead Centre for Research Excellence in Brain Recovery, Australia
Skye McDonald
Affiliation:
School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Moving Ahead Centre for Research Excellence in Brain Recovery, Australia
Alana Fisher
Affiliation:
School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
*
Address for correspondence: Dr Cynthia A. Honan, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, NSW 2052, Australia. E-mail: c.honan@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

An important aspect of cognitive functioning that is often impaired following traumatic brain injury (TBI) is visuospatial learning and memory. The Austin Maze task is a measure of visuospatial learning that has a long history in both clinical neuropsychological practice and research, particularly in individuals with TBI. The aim of this study was to evaluate visuospatial learning deficits following TBI using a new computerised version of the Austin Maze task. Twenty-eight individuals with moderate-to-severe TBI were compared to 28 healthy controls on this task, together with alternative neuropsychological measures, including the WAIS-III Digit Symbol and Digit Span subtests, the Trail Making Test, WMS-III Logical Memory, and Rey Osterrieth Complex Figure Test. The results demonstrated that TBI individuals performed significantly more poorly on the Austin Maze task than control participants. The Austin Maze task also demonstrated good convergent and divergent validity with the alternative neuropsychological measures. Thus, the computerised version of the Austin Maze appears to be a sensitive measure that can detect visuospatial learning impairments in individuals with moderate-to-severe TBI. The new computerised version of the task offers much promise in that it is more accessible and easier to administer than the conventional form of the test.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Australasian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment 2015 

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