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Working memory assessment - the digit span

Updated on July 22, 2015
Beta version of  fully automated working memory assessment tool commonly called the digit span
Beta version of fully automated working memory assessment tool commonly called the digit span | Source

It all starts with an assessment

According to George Miller the results for the auditory test should fall within a range of 5 and 9 for each test , 7 is the standardized average for ADULTS . A total of 14 when Forward and reverse is aggregated .. In recent years an extended test , reading span or complex span has been developed to reflect the drawbacks in the original DS . The results of the test are going to be skewed by test taking strategies . For administrators knowing the test taking strategies is important as average or above average results may hide a weakness or reflect a number competence that does not transfer .

Rhyme/Rhythm - the subject repeats the numbers internally superimposing a rhythmic musical tonal quality to the sequence .

Chunking/Blocking - the subject chunks the numbers into groups of 2 3 or 4 . Increasing the number of sequenced objects that can be held in single context.

Patterns - The subject attempts to impose order by looking for patterns or skip patterns within the sequence . Examples : ordinal , repeated numbers , hierarchical ascent/descent , step alternating +/- , squares multiples and divisions , prime numbers .

Association - The subject looks to associate numbers with times , dates , objects , ages .

Visual Strategies - Subject looks for visual patterns in the shapes of numbers composed of straight lines , straight lines and curves and just straight lines to strengthen visualization of the sequence . Sub modalities such as use of color may be used to enhance the mental image

[*1] Research indicates Age , gender , resistance to interference , distraction or boredom all impact capacity
[*2] Research authored by Daneman and Carpenter introduced an extended version of the memory span task which they called reading span.The reading span task was the first instance of the family of complex span tasks, which differ from the traditional simple span tasks by adding a processing demand to the requirement to remember a list of items. In complex span tasks encoding of the memory items (e.g., words) alternates with brief processing episodes (e.g., reading sentences). For example, the operation span task combines verification of brief mathematical equations such as "2+6/2 = 5?" with memory for a word or a letter that follows immediately after each equation.Complex-span tasks have also been shown to be closely related to many other aspects of complex cognitive performance besides language comprehension, among other things to measures of fluid intelligence.To run an extended memory span the option exists to run a supervised test , interjecting additional processing demands into the time intervals within the DS , time intervals which can be extended using options .
[*3] Research has shown that simply visualizing the digits presented within the digit span will not improve performance .


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