Digit Span

Cognitive and Behavioral Analysis of Digit Span

Abilities Shared with Other Subtests

Factor Analysis: Two-factor solutions: Perceptual Organization Three-factor solutions: Working

Memory Four-factor solutions: Working Memory

Bannatyne: Sequential

Horn: Short-Term Memory (Gsm)

CHC: Broad: Short-Term Memory (Gsm)

Osgood: Auditory-vocal channel of communication Automatic level of organization

(Digits Forward) Representational level of organization (Digits Backward)

Rapaport: Attention

Dean: Auditory memory

Guilford: Memory of symbolic content (units and systems) Other skills: Auditory sequencing

Encoding information for further cognitive processing (Digits Backward) Facility with numbers Mental alertness Sequential (linear, left-brain) processing

Influences Affecting Digit Span Subtest Scores

• Ability to receive stimuli passively

• Attention span

• Distractibility

• Flexibility (when switching from forward to backward span)

Learning disabilities ("ACID" profile)

• Negativism (refusal to try to reverse digits, refusal to exert effort until the more challenging reversal task, or refusal to take a "meaningless" test)

Unique Abilities or Traits Measured by Digit Span

• Immediate rote recall

• Memory span (CHC narrow ability)

• Reversibility (Digits Backward)

Empirical Analysis of Digit Span g loadings: r = .57 (worst) Reliability: test-retest = .83, split-half = .90 Practice effect: Small for ages 16-74 (gains of 0.4-0.5 scaled-score point); Trivial for ages 75-89 (loss of 0.1 point)

Subtest specificity/Error variance: 50% vs. 10% (ample specificity) Primary Oblimin Factor Loading: Ages 16-74: Working Memory factor = .74 Ages 75-89: Working Memory factor = .58

Most related to: Letter-Number Sequencing (r = .57)

Least related to: Object Assembly (r = .26)

Aging Analysis of Digit Span

Mean scaled score across the adult age range (controlling for education at ages 20-89):

Age Group

Digit Span Mean

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