A recent study by Icelandic psychologists found that, on average, healthy individuals made 6.4 absent – minded lapses’ or slips each week. The most common types of error found were ‘storage failures’ when an action or action plan was forgotten. Other errors included when things were done in the wrong order or incorrectly, for example bringing the wrong items back from the shops. Slightly strange, but apparently normal errors include, putting on someone else’s coat or putting a good item in the rubbish and a broken item back in the cupboard! More errors were made on weekdays and although slightly counter- intuitive, more errors were shown to be made by younger than older participants. These findings have both assessment and treatment/ management implications. Firstly when assessing the consequences of possible -post – accident cognitive impairment, it is essential to bear in mind what an individual of same age might “normally” experience. Secondly, when managing an individual with an accident- related impairment, it can be reassuring for them to be aware that part of their “impairment” may, in fact, be normal and that this aspect is no different or no more frequent than among healthy individuals.
Reference: Jonsdottir et al (2007) A Diagnostic study of action slips in healthy individuals. The Clinical Neuro Psychologist
Professor Hugh Koch regularly holds clinics in London.