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August 1958

The Digit Span Test and the Prediction of Cerebral Pathology

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;80(2):228-231. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340080098021

The use of the auditory-vocal digit span test in clinical examination procedures is based on the assumption that it usefully reflects the status of an important area of intellectual functioning. When defective performance on this immediate memory task is observed, the most frequent diagnostic inferences are those of anxiety-induced interference or of impairment associated with a cerebral disorder. This study concerns itself with the latter inference.

The findings of many studies would support the use of a digit span task for the diagnosis of brain damage (BD) in adult nonpsychotic patients.1-3,6-14 Only one study in which the digit span test could be independently evaluated showed a failure to discriminate between BD Ss and non-BD Ss.5

Despite the rather convincing evidence that digit span performance permits some degree of prediction, a clinician wishing to utilize this test needs more specific information. None of the studies cited above has addressed

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