A Brief Period of Wakeful Rest after Learning Enhances Verbal Memory in Stroke Survivors

Felicity A. Evans, Renerus J. Stolwyk, Dana Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Objective: Accumulating evidence suggests that wakeful rest (a period of minimal cognitive stimulation) enhances memory in clinical populations with memory impairment. However, no study has previously examined the efficacy of this technique in stroke survivors, despite the high prevalence of post-stroke memory difficulties. We aimed to investigate whether wakeful rest enhances verbal memory in stroke survivors and healthy controls. Method: Twenty-four stroke survivors and 24 healthy controls were presented with two short stories; one story was followed by a 10-minute period of wakeful rest and the other was followed by a 10-minute visual interference task. A mixed factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) with pairwise comparisons was used to compare participants' story retention at two time points. Results: After 15-30 minutes, stroke survivors (p =.002, d =.73), and healthy controls (p =.001, d =.76) retained more information from the story followed by wakeful rest, compared with the story followed by an interference task. While wakeful rest remained the superior condition in healthy controls after 7 days (p =.01, d =.58), the beneficial effect was not maintained in stroke survivors (p =.35, d =.19). Conclusions: Wakeful rest is a promising technique, which significantly enhanced verbal memory after 15-30 minutes in both groups; however, no significant benefit of wakeful rest was observed after 7 days in stroke survivors. Preliminary findings suggest that wakeful rest enhances early memory consolidation processes by protecting against the effects of interference after learning in stroke survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-938
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Cerebrovascular disorders
  • Cognitive strategies
  • Learning
  • Memory consolidation
  • Memory rehabilitation
  • Recall

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