ALSPAC – Age 5 – Short-Term Memory (Digit Span Test)

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The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) assessed their cohort members (CMs) at 61 months’ age (Children in Focus Clinic) using a measure of Short-term Memory (Digit Span Test).

Details on this measure and the data collected from the CMs are outlined in the table below.


Domain:Verbal memory
Measures:Short-term memory
Memory Span
CHC:Gsm (Short-term memory)
Administration method:Trained interviewer; clinical setting; questions answered orally
Procedure:The child was presented with a spoken series of digits and asked to recall them immediately in sequence. A practice session was administered first. Sequence lists were then read aloud, beginning with a 2-number sequence. If the child correctly answered the first 3 lists of a particular sequence length, the length of the list was increased by one number. The outcome was the maximum digit span reached.
Link to questionnaire:http://www.bristol.ac.uk/alspac/researchers/our-data/clinical-measures/ (opens in new tab)
Scoring:Max digit span reached (0 - 8)
Item-level variable(s):cf870 - cf877
Total score/derived variable(s):cf872
Descriptives:Raw score
N = 963
Range = 0 - 22
Mean = 11.91
SD = 2.96
(click image to enlarge)
Age of participants (months):Mean = 67.19, SD = 0.8, Range = 65 - 73
Other sweep and/or cohort:ALSPAC – Age 4 – Short-Term Memory (Digit Span Test)
NCDS – Child of CM (Multi-Age) – WISC-R Digit Span Subscale
BCS70 – Age 10 – BAS Recall of Digits
Source:Gathercole, S. E., & Pickering, S. J. (2000). Assessment of working memory in six-and seven-year-old children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(2), 377.
Technical resources:None
Reference examples:Gathercole, S. E., Briscoe, J., Thorn, A., Tiffany, C., & ALSPAC Study Team. (2008). Deficits in verbal long-term memory and learning in children with poor phonological short-term memory skills. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61(3), 474-490.

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This page is part of CLOSER’s ‘A guide to the cognitive measures in five British birth cohort studies’.