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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 20, Issue 1-2, Pages 17-25

A Preliminary Investigation of the Running Digit Span As a Test of Working Memory

Marjan Jahanshahi,1 T. Saleem,1,2 Aileen K. Ho,3 R. Fuller,1,4 and Georg Dirnberger1,5

1Cognitive Motor Neuroscience Group, Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience & Movement Disorders, UCL Institute of Neurology, The National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, UK
2Centre for Palliative Care, Kings College, London, UK
3Department of Psychology, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, UK
4Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA
5Department of Neurology, Division of Neurorehabilitation, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Received 12 May 2009; Accepted 12 May 2009

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The objective of this study was to compare performance on different versions of the running span task, and to examine the relationship between task performance and tests of episodic memory and executive function. We found that the average capacity of the running span was approximately 4 digits, and at long sequence lengths, performance was no longer affected by varying the running span window. Both episodic and executive function measures correlated with short and long running spans, suggesting that a simple dissociation between immediate memory and executive processes in short and long running digit span tasks may not be warranted.