Differential outcomes training facilitates memory in people with Korsakoff and Prader-Willi syndromes



This article presents evidence that a teaching procedure called differential outcomes training enhances learning and memory. Differential outcomes training reinforces correct responses with outcomes that are unique and specific to the stimuli that are to be remembered. Teaching with this method enhances performance in people with Korsakoff syndrome and people with Prader-Willi syndrome, populations known to have lerning and working memory deficits. This initial evidence that persons with learning and memory deficits benefit from differential outcomes training should encourage future work on the development of an intervention using this type of training to aide daily functioning by people with learning and memory impairments.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Biber, C., Butters, N., Rosen, J., Gerstman, L., & Mattis, S. (1981). Encoding strategies and recognition of faces by alcoholic Korsakoff and other brain-damaged patients.Journal of Clinical Neuropsychology, 3, 315–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cassidy, S.B. (1984). Prader-Willi syndrome.Current Problems in Pediatrics, 14, 1–55.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dricker, J., Butters, N., Berman, G., Samuels, I., & Carey, S. (1978). The recognition and encoding of faces by alcoholic Korsakoff and right hemisphere patients.Neuropsychologia, 16, 683–695.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dykens, E.M., Leckman, J.F., & Cassidy, S.B. (1996). Obsessions and compulsions in Prader-Willi syndrome.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 37 (8), 995–1002.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Estévez, A.F., Fuentes, L.J., Mari-Beffa, P., González, C., & Alvarez, D. (2001). The differential outcomes effect as a useful tool to improve conditional discrimination learning in children.Learning and Motivation, 1(32), 48–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Goeters, S., Blakely, E., & Poling, A. (1992). The differential outcomes effect.Psychological Record, 42, 389–411.Google Scholar
  8. Hochhalter, A.K., Sweeney, W.A., Bakke, B.L., Holub, R.J.. & Overmier, J.B. (2000). Improving face recognition in alcohol dementia.Clinical Gerontologist, 22(2), 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jacobson, R.R., & Lishman, W.A. (1987). Selective memory loss and global intellectual deficits in alcoholic Korsakoff's syndrome.Psychological Medicine, 17, 649–655.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Joseph, B., Overmier, J.B., & Thompson, T. (1997). Food and nonfood related differential outcomes in equivalence learning by adults with Prader-Willi syndrome.American Journal on Mental Retardation, 101(4), 374–386.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Joseph, B., Egli, M., Sutcliffe, J.S., & Thompson, T. (2001). Possible dosage effect of maternally expressed genes on visual recognition memory in Prader-Willi syndrome.American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 105, 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kopelman, M.D. (1995). The Korsakoff syndrome.British Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 154–173.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Langlais, P.J. (1995). Alcohol-related thiamine deficiency: Impact on cognitive and memory functioning.Alcohol World, 19 (2), 113–121.Google Scholar
  14. Ledbetter, D.H., Mascarello, J.T., Riccardi, V.M., Harper, V.D., Airhard, S.D., & Strobel, R.J. (1982). Chromosome 15 abnormalities and the Prader-Willi syndrome: A follow-up report of 40 cases.American Journal of Human Genetics, 34, 278–285.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Malanga, P., & Poling, A. (1992). Letter recognition by adults with mental handicaps: Improving performance through differential outcomes.Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 20(2), 39–48.Google Scholar
  16. Mayes, A.R., Downes, J.J., Symons, V., & Shoqeirat, M. (1994). Do amnesics forget faces pathologically fast?Cortex, 30, 543–563.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Mayes, A.R., Meudell, P., & Neary, D. (1980). Do amnesics adopt inefficient encoding strategies with faces and random shapes?Neuropsychologia, 18, 527–540.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Oscar-Berman, M., & Bonner, R.T. (1989). Nonmatching-(oddity) and delayed nonmatching-to-sample performance in aging, alcoholic, and alcoholic Korsakoff individuals.Psychobiology, 17, 424–430.Google Scholar
  19. Savage, L.M., & Langlais, P.J. (1995). Differential outcomes attenuates spatial memory impairments seen in pyrithiamine-induced thiamine deficient rats.Psychobiology, 23, 153–160.Google Scholar
  20. Savage, L.M., & Parsons, J. (1997). The effects of delay interval, intertrial interval, amnestic drugs, and differential outcomes on matching-to-position in rats.Psychobiology, 25(4), 303–312.Google Scholar
  21. Savage, L.M., Pitkin, S.R., & Careri, J.M. (1999). Memory enhancement in aged rats: The differential outcomes effect.Developmental Psychobiology, 35(4), 318–327.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Savage, L.M., Pitkin, S., & Knitowski, K. (1999). Rats exposed to pyrithiamine—induced thiamine deficiency are more sensitive to the amnestic effects of scopolamine and MK-801: Examination of working memory, response selection, and reinforcement contingencies.Behavioural Brain Research, 104, 13–26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Savage, L.M., Stanchfield, M.A., & Overmier, J.B. (1994). The effects of scopolamine, diazepam, and lorazepam on working memory in pigeons: An analysis of reinforcement procedures and sample problem type.Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 48(1), 183–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sidman, M. (1997). Equivalence relations.Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 68(2), 258–266PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Trapold, M.A. (1970). Are expectancies based upon different positive reinforcing events discriminably different?Learning and Motivation, 1, 129–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Trapold, M.A., & Overmier, J.B. (1972). The second learning process in instrumental learning. In A.H. Black & W.F. Prokasy (Eds.),Classical Conditioning II: Current Theory and Research (pp. 427–452). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  27. Vietor, M., Adams, R.D., & Collins, G.H..The Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and Related Neurologic Disorders to Alcoholism and Malnutrition. 1989. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.Google Scholar
  28. Warren, J.L., & Hunt, E. (1981). Cognitive processing in children with Prader-Willi syndrome. In V.A. Holm, S. Sulzbacher & P. Pipes (Eds.),The Prader-Willi syndrome (pp. 161–178). Baltimore: University Park Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Cognitive SciencesUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolis

Personalised recommendations