Cognitive ability predicts motor learning on a virtual reality game in patients with TBI

Rochelle L. O'Neil, Reid L. Skeel, Ksenia I. Ustinova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Virtual reality games and simulations have been utilized successfully for motor rehabilitation of individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Little is known, however, how TBI-related cognitive decline affects learning of motor tasks in virtual environments. OBJECTIVE: To fill this gap, we examined learning within a virtual reality game involving various reaching motions in 14 patients with TBI and 15 healthy individuals with different cognitive abilities. METHODS: All participants practiced ten 90-second gaming trials to assess various aspects of motor learning. Cognitive abilities were assessed with a battery of tests including measures of memory, executive functioning, and visuospatial ability. RESULTS: Overall, participants with TBI showed both reduced performance and a slower learning rate in the virtual reality game compared to healthy individuals. Numerous correlations between overall performance and several of the cognitive ability domains were revealed for both the patient and control groups, with the best predictor being overall cognitive ability. CONCLUSIONS: The results may provide a starting point for rehabilitation programs regarding which cognitive domains interact with motor learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-680
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


  • Cognitive ability
  • traumatic brain injury
  • virtual reality


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