Assessment of information processing in working memory in applied settings: the paper and pencil memory scanning test

W. van der Elst*, M.P.J. van Boxtel, G.J.P. van Breukelen, J. Jolles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. Sternberg's Memory Scanning Test (MST) is a useful paradigm for evaluating the speed and efficiency of information processing in working memory. Unfortunately, the classical MST has major drawbacks for use in applied settings Such as the clinic. For example, its administration time is long and the test is too difficult for older people or people with cognitive disorders. It would be advantageous to have a test for the assessment of information processing in working memory for use in applied settings, for example in differential diagnostics in clinical settings. Method. The MST was modified into a format that makes it more appropriate for use in the clinic, the Paper & Pencil MST (P&P MST). The influence of age and age-extrinsic factors on the P&P MST was evaluated in a large sample (n = 1839) of healthy and cognitively intact adults (24-81 years) to establish the normal range of performance. Results. Age and education affected all components of information processing in working memory. Gender did not affect the non-memory processing stages in the P&P MST, but affected the speed of memory scanning. An Age x Gender interaction was observed, which suggested that females who were aged below 55 scanned working memory faster than males, and vice versa for people aged above 55. Conclusions. The established P&P MST norms provide a useful tool in applied settings when a person's memory scanning and non-memory processes in working memory are to be evaluated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-44
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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