Understanding Memory, Metamemory and Language after Brain Injury
Early research projects focused on gaining a better understanding of the relationships between memory impairment and how well individuals judge their own memory ability after brain injury. This is important because of the potential for dual disabilities after brain injury: poor memory and learning, and not knowing that memory is impaired, called ‘metamemory’. If you think your memory is fine, then you are not likely to try to improve it or compensate for it using strategies. Early studies showed that there were learning situations in which adults with brain injury were as good as those without brain injury at judging their memory, but that when uncertain about their memory adults with brain injury were overconfident (Kennedy & Yorkston, 2000; Kennedy, 2001). Those whose brain injury included frontal lobe injury, however, were not as good at judging their memory as those with brain injury but without frontal lobe injury (Kennedy & Yorkston, 2004). Follow-up studies showed that even though their memory for stories was worse than adults without brain injury, those with brain injury were just as good at judging their memory for stories (Kennedy & Nawrocki, 2003). Unfortunately, we also found that being good at judging your memory for one kind of material (e.g., stories) does not mean you are also good at judging your memory of words regardless of brain injury (Kennedy, 2005). Importantly, we found that the link between assessing your memory and making strategy decisions remains intact for many after brain injury (Kennedy, Peters, & Carney, 2003). Furthermore, we found that the biggest benefit to boosting memory came when adults with brain injury selected items themselves that they wanted to restudy.