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Tests > Digit Span

Digit Span

Digit Span measures verbal short-term memory, defined as the system that allows for temporary storage of information, and is crucial in everyday tasks such as remembering a telephone number or understanding long sentences. Digit Span involves numbers, but performance is indicative of verbal short-term memory, because it requires dealing with items in a specific order, as opposed to spatial short-term memory.

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How to take the Digit Span Test

A sequence of numbers appears on the screen, one at a time. At the sound of the beep, users click the numbers in the same order. The number of digits increases with correct answers, and performance is indicated by the average number of digits correctly remembered.

The history of Digit Span

Often included in traditional IQ tests, Digit Span has a long history in neuropsychological assessments. Early theories of memory identified the “phonological loop”—a verbal storage and rehearsal system—underlying properly functioning verbal short-term memory. More recent research has identified regions of the brain, such as the mid-ventrolateral frontal cortex, that must be recruited to perform well in Digit Span.

Digit Span in
the real world

Remembering sequences of information is critical in everyday tasks, from remembering a telephone number as you're entering it into your phone, to understanding long and difficult sentences. This task is associated with verbal ability, and because it’s so important, it’s often included in traditional IQ tests.

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