The effect of age-at-testing on verbal memory among children following severe traumatic brain injury

Tamar Silberg*, Jaana Ahonniska-Assa, Miriam Levav, Roni Eliyahu, Tamar Peleg-Pilowsky, Amichai Brezner, Eli Vakil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Memory deficits are a common sequelae following childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI), which often have serious implications on age-related academic skills. The current study examined verbal memory performance using the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) in a pediatric TBI sample. Verbal memory abilities as well as the effect of age at-testing on performance were examined. A sample of 67 children following severe TBI (age average = 12.3 ± 2.74) and 67 matched controls were evaluated using the RAVLT. Age effect at assessment was examined using two age groups: above and below 12 years of age during evaluation. Differences between groups were examined via the 9 RAVLT learning trials and the 7 composite scores conducted out of them. Children following TBI recalled significantly less words than controls on all RAVLT trials and had significantly lower scores on all composite scores. However, all of these scores fell within the low average range. Further analysis revealed significantly lower than average performance among the older children (above 12 years), while scores of the younger children following TBI fell within average limits. To conclude, verbal memory deficits among children following severe TBI demonstrate an age-at-testing effect with more prominent problems occurring above 12 years at the time of evaluation. Yet, age-appropriate performance among children below 12 years of age may not accurately describe memory abilities at younger ages following TBI. It is therefore recommended that clinicians address childs age at testing and avoid using a single test as an indicator of verbal memory functioning post TBI.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)600-617
Number of pages18
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Age effect
  • Pediatric TBI
  • Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT)
  • Verbal memory


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