Retrieval practice is a robust memory aid for memory-impaired patients with MS

James F Sumowski1,2
Victoria M Leavitt1,2
Amanda Cohen1
Jessica Paxton1,2
Nancy D Chiaravalloti1,2
John DeLuca1,2,3

1Kessler Foundation Research Center, USA

2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation UMDNJ

3Department of Neurology and Neurosciences UMDNJ—New Jersey Medical School, USA

James F. Sumowski, Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Laboratory, Kessler Foundation Research Center, 300 Executive Drive, Suite 70, West Orange, NJ 07052, USA.


Memory impairment is prevalent in multiple sclerosis (MS). Retrieval practice is a powerful memory technique whereby retrieving information (quizzing oneself) leads to better memory than restudying. In a within-subjects experiment, 12 memory-impaired MS patients encoded verbal paired associates (VPAs) through massed restudy (MR), spaced restudy (SR), or retrieval practice (RP). Half of VPAs were tested after short delay (30 minutes) and half after long delay (one week). RP robustly improved memory more than restudy. Short delay: MR=15.6%, SR=27.1%, RP=72.9%. Long delay: MR=1.0%, SR=4.2%, RP=24.0%. RP was the best memory technique for nearly all patients after both short and long delays.