A comparison of automatic and intentional instructions when using the method of vanishing cues in acquired brain injury

Gerard A. Riley*, Paul Venn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)


Thirty-four participants with acquired brain injury learned word lists under two forms of vanishing cues - one in which the learning trial instructions encouraged intentional retrieval (i.e., explicit memory) and one in which they encouraged automatic retrieval (which encompasses implicit memory). The automatic instructions represented a novel approach in which the cooperation of participants was actively sought to avoid intentional retrieval. Intentional instructions resulted in fewer errors during the learning trials and better performance on immediate and delayed retrieval tests. The advantage of intentional over automatic instructions was generally less for those who had more severe memory and/or executive impairments. Most participants performed better under intentional instructions on both the immediate and the delayed tests. Although those who were more severely impaired in both memory and executive function also did better with intentional instructions on the immediate retrieval test, they were significantly more likely to show an advantage for automatic instructions on the delayed test. It is suggested that this pattern of results may reflect impairments in the consolidation of intentional memories in this group. When using vanishing cues, automatic instructions may be better for those with severe consolidation impairments, but otherwise intentional instructions may be better.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-81
Number of pages29
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015


  • Acquired brain injury
  • Cognitive rehabilitation
  • Explicit memory
  • Implicit memory
  • Method of vanishing cues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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