NCDS – Age 50 – Verbal Learning/Word List Recall Test (Immediate and Delayed)

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The 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 50 sweep using the Verbal Learning/Word List Recall Test (Immediate and Delayed).

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


Domain:Verbal (memory)
Measures:Attention
Short-term episodic memory
Verbal memory
CHC:Glr (Long-Term Storage and Retrieval)
Administration method:CAPI; presented aurally; orally recalled
Procedure:One of four lists of 10 common words were selected by the CAPI, and are presented to participant via a recorded voice at a rate of one word every 2-seconds. In cases where the computer voice was not audible, the interviewer read the words, mimicking the pace and clarity of the recorded voice. After the list was read out, the participant was given two minutes to recall as many of the words as they could (in no particular order). The interviewer made a note of the number of correctly recalled words, and entered this total into the CAPI.
After additional tests were administered (animal naming and letter cancellation), the interviewer asked the participant to again recall as many words as possible from the original list (words not repeated by CAPI/interviewer). This delayed memory task was done approximately five minutes after the initial recall task. Again, the interviewer made a note of each correctly recalled word, and entered the total number into the CAPI.
Link to questionnaire:https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NCDS_8_FINAL_MAINSTAGE_DOCUMENTATION.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:Immediate recall: 10 items (scores range 0 - 10)
Delayed recall: 10 items (scores range 0 - 10)
Item-level variable(s):Not currently available
Total score/derived variable(s):N8INTCF - N8CFLISD
Descriptives:Recall (immediate)Recall (delayed)
N = 9,648N = 9,591
Range = 0 - 10Range = 0 - 10
Mean = 6.54Mean = 5.41
SD = 1.49SD = 1.84
(click image to enlarge)
(click image to enlarge)
Age of participants (months):Mean = 608.27, SD = 1.92, Range = 598 - 614
Other sweep and/or cohort:NCDS – Age 61-63 – Proposed repeat of tests at age 50
NSHD – Age 43 – Verbal Learning/Word List Recall Test*
NSHD – Age 53 – Verbal Learning/Word List Recall Test*
NSHD – Age 60-64 – Verbal Learning/Word List Recall Test*
NSHD – Age 68-70 – Verbal Learning/Word List Recall Test*
BCS70 – Age 46-47 – Verbal Learning/Word List Recall Test (Immediate and Delayed)
(* For each of three trials survey members were shown a list of 15 words at a rate of two seconds each, then were asked to write down as many words recalled as possible. A simple total score is available calculated as the sum of the words correctly recalled at each trial.)
Source:Similar tasks have been used to measure verbal learning for decades, e.g. Bush and Mosteller (1955). Cognitive measures at this sweep were taken from the 2002 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA; Taylor et al., 2007).
Technical resources:Brown, M., & Dodgeon, B. (2010). NCDS cognitive assessments at age 50: initial results. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
Reference examples:Calvin, C. M., Batty, G. D., Lowe, G., & Deary, I. J. (2011). Childhood intelligence and midlife inflammatory and hemostatic biomarkers: The National Child Development Study (1958) cohort. Health Psychology, 30(6), 710.
Dregan, A., & Gulliford, M. C. (2013). Leisure-time physical activity over the life course and cognitive functioning in late mid-adult years: a cohort-based investigation. Psychological Medicine, 43(11), 2447-2458.
Bowling, A., Pikhartova, J., & Dodgeon, B. (2016). Is mid-life social participation associated with cognitive function at age 50? Results from the British National Child Development Study (NCDS). BMC Psychology, 4(1), 58.

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