Improving digit span assessment of short-term verbal memory

David L Woods, Mark M. Kishiyama, E. William Yund, Timothy J. Herron, Ben Edwards, Oren Poliva, Robert F. Hink, Bruce R Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


We measured digit span (DS) in two experiments that used computerized presentation of randomized auditory digits with performance-adapted list length adjustment. A new mean span (MS) metric of DS was developed that showed reduced variance, improved test-retest reliability, and higher correlations with the results of other neuropsychological test results when compared to traditional DS measures. The MS metric also enhanced the sensitivity of forward versus backward span comparisons, enabled the development of normative performance criteria with subdigit precision, and elucidated changes in DS performance with age and education level. Computerized stimulus delivery and improved scoring metrics significantly enhance the precision of DS assessments of short-term verbal memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Aging
  • Attention
  • Auditory
  • Computer
  • Digit span
  • Education
  • Executive function
  • Metrics
  • Verbal memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Psychology


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