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ALSPAC – Age 10 – Working Memory (Counting Span Task)

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 10 sweep (Focus 10+ Clinic) using a measure of Working Memory (Counting Span Task).

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

Domain:Short-term visual memory
Measures:Working memory
Simultaneous processing
Visual memory
CHC:Short-Term Memory (Gsm)
Visual Processing (Gv)
Administration method:Trained interviewer; clinical setting; CAPI
Procedure:This test consisted of two components: the processing component, and the storage component. For the processing component, the child was presented with a number of red and blue dots on a white screen on the computer monitor. The child was asked to point to and count aloud the number of red dots. The child was shown: i) two practice sets of two screens, ii) three sets of two screens, iii) three sets of three screens, iv) three sets of four screens, and v) three sets of five screens. For the storage component, the child was asked to recall the number of red dots seen on each screen in the order they were presented within that set after each set. Every child worked through every set regardless of their overall performance.
Link to questionnaire: (opens in new tab)
Scoring:The child's working memory calculated (automatically by the computer programme) as the number of correctly recalled sets, weighted by the number of screens within each set, with a max score of 5 (i.e. all correct). Two scores are available: i) A Global score representing the number of trials the child got correct, ii) The Span score, the main outcome measure for this task as described above.
Item-level variable(s):Not readily available
Total score/derived variable(s):fdcm110, fdcm111
Descriptives:Global scoreSpan score
N = 7,007N = 7,007
Range = 0 - 42Range = 0 - 5
Mean = 18.52Mean = 3.41
SD = 7.62SD = 0.84
(click image to enlarge)
(click image to enlarge)
Age of participants:Mean = 127.8 months, SD =3.18, Range = 118 - 147
Other sweep and/or cohort:None
Source:Case, R., Kurland, D. M., & Goldberg, J. (1982). Operational efficiency and the growth of short-term memory span. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 33(3), 386-404.
Technical resources:None
Reference examples:Taylor, A. E., Guthrie, P. A., Smith, G. D., Golding, J., Sattar, N., Hingorani, A. D., ... & Day, I. N. (2011). IQ, educational attainment, memory and plasma lipids: associations with apolipoprotein E genotype in 5995 children. Biological Psychiatry, 70(2), 152-158.
Stautz, K., Pechey, R., Couturier, D. L., Deary, I. J., & Marteau, T. M. (2016). Do executive function and impulsivity predict adolescent health behaviour after accounting for intelligence? Findings from the ALSPAC cohort. PloS One, 11(8), e0160512.

For the named items in the table above, links are provided to their corresponding content on CLOSER Discovery. Where a variable range is provided, full variable lists can be accessed through the ‘Variable Groups’ tab on the linked Discovery page.

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