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Table 1 Comparison of the key principles and expected training outcomes of error-based learning and errorless learning

From: Comparison of error-based and errorless learning for people with severe traumatic brain injury: study protocol for a randomized control trial

Key principles Error-based learning Errorless learning
Training approach and model Top-down with an internal focus (person learns to monitor and correct their own errors) Bottom-up with an external focus (therapist monitors and eliminates the person’s errors)
Target of intervention Increased awareness of deficits and the capacity to anticipate, self-monitor and self-regulate errors Error-free performance on successive parts of the task through observing and practicing correct actions
Mechanisms (function of errors in learning) A structured opportunity to make and self-identify errors with therapist’s feedback to realize the functional significance of errors, and practice of self-initiated strategies (stop, check and correct) over sessions The therapist prevents errors during the learning acquisition phase by modeling each step and the person practices only correct responses over sessions to support habit formation
Training outcomes (pre vs post) Reduced errors on the training task, generalization of self-regulation skills to untrained tasks (reduced errors and improved broader behavioral competency) and greater awareness of deficits Reduced errors on the training task, minimal change in awareness, lack of generalization of self-regulation skills to untrained tasks (minimal change in errors and broader behavioral competency)