Digit Span Memory
"I count cards. Yeah." - Raymond Babbett (Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man)
Digit span refers to the number of items you can keep in mind at one time. Evidence shows that digit span affects a wide range of behaviors including paying attention, staying on task and avoiding distractions. The number is 4, or 7, depending on whom you talk to. You can increase digit-span by 'chunking' items into groups. In the WISC-III intelligence test for children, digit span is measured to determine "freedom from distractibility," which attests to its chipping away effect on behavior, i.e., when you can't remember things, you lose focus, get bored, daydream, act out, etc. This is supported by a study in which training in digit span not only improved working memory but improved behavior in children with ADHD. Another study showed that while most of us use verbal processing areas in our brains to deal with remembering tasks, experts use visuo-spatial or imagery related areas, suggesting that by converting familiar input to imagery we can make working memory more efficient. The visual elements of these games are therefore a positive factor.
Movie MunchiesThis game uses a movie theater concession stand to train digit span with time limits and random ordering of items. A good workout.
The Musical Bamboos, Ribbit Frog RibbitIn these deceptively simple games you copy the notes you see and hear in the same order. These games not only require short term recall of visual cues, they give practice in the two main components of working memory, the visuo-spatial sketchpad and the auditory loop.
- Training of Working Memory in Children With ADHD (Klingberg, Forssberg & Westerberg, 2002)
- Superior digit memory of abacus experts: an event-related functional MRI study (Tanaka et al., 2002)