Relation of forward and backward digit repetition to neurological impairment in children with learning disabilities

Rita G. Rudel, Martha B. Denckla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The WISC digit span scaled scores of 297 children with learning disabilities fell below any of their overall I.Q. measures. More than 30 per cent of these Ss also had a greater than normal difference of 3 or more digits between their forward and backward spans. When 292 Ss for whom neurological data were available were categorized according to their signs (none, predominantly left, right, or bilateral), Ss with right-sided signs (presumed left hemisphere damage) were worse on digits forward, while Ss with left-sided signs (presumed right hemisphere damage) were worse on digits backward. Most Ss who could not repeat digits backward at all had bilateral impairment. Analysis of the data by age, suggests that the large gap between forward and backward digits, characteristic of the group with left-sided signs, tends to increase with age since their ability to repeat digits forward improves without concommitant improvement in their ability to repeat them backward. Conversely, the backward span of the group with right-sided signs tends to "catch up" and even equal their limited forward repetition. The data appear to support a left-hemisphere-dependent auditory verbal component of the digit span task reflected in digits forward and a right-hemisphere-dependent, visuo-spatial component reflected in digits backward. The distribution of verbal and performance WISC scores of these Ss, as well as their forward and backward digit spans, suggest that patterns of adult hemispheric asymmetry are similar in children with restricted early brain damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1974
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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