Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Digit Span

  • Melissa Lamar
  • Rod Swenson
  • Dana L. Penney
  • Edith Kaplan
  • David J. LibonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1288


Backward digit task; Digit span test

Historical Background

The term digit span refers both to several important psychological constructs and the names of tests designed to measure these constructs. First and foremost, digit span, along with reaction time, may be viewed as one of the two original paradigms used by experimental psychologists to investigate cognition. The origins of digit span as a psychological construct date back to the work of Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716). Leibniz suggested that individuals have a finite capacity to prospectively process or hold in mind the information from the environment. He termed this capacity the span of apperception (see JTE Richardson’s paper: Measurements of short-term memory: A historical review. Cortex, 43, 635–650, 2007, for a review.)

In the nineteenth century, Herman Ebbinghaus (1850–1909; 1885/1964 cited in Richardson 2007) was the first cognitive scientist to show how span could be used as an experimental paradigm to...

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References and Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa Lamar
    • 1
  • Rod Swenson
    • 2
  • Dana L. Penney
    • 3
  • Edith Kaplan
    • 4
  • David J. Libon
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Rush Alzheimer’s Disease CenterChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral ScienceUniversity of North Dakota School of MedicineFargoUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyThe Lahey ClinicBurlingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologySuffolk UniversityBostonUSA
  5. 5.Departments of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and PsychologyRowan University, New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging, School of Osteopathic MedicineStratfordUSA