Short-Term Working Memory

Why Does It Matter?

"How your working memory makes sense of the world" by Peter Doolittle; 9 min

Achieving Our Current Goals

This measure involves administering the CORSI block test (Corsi, 1972), and it is used for testing the capacity of the participant's short-term working memory.

As Dr. Doolittle explains in the accompanying video, our short-term working memory capacity is our ability to take what we know and/or observe and use this information to satisfy our current (short-term) goal. Additionally, Dr. Doolittle emphasizes the need to train our memories and to put in the practice to improve our cognitive function.

Being able to observe external stimuli and retain that information for a short amount of time is important for problem solving in STEM classes.

About the Instrument

Instructions for Students

The setup: You will see nine squares on the screen. On each trial, squares will light up with a check box one at a time.

Your goal: Try to REMEMBER the sequence of check boxes and REPEAT the pattern by clicking on the squares [”touching the squares” if using a touchscreen] in the same order that they were checked. Then click [“touch” if using a touchscreen] “Done.” If you cannot remember the exact order, try to match the sequence as closely as you can.

Game length: about 4 minutes

We will start with a practice round before the game begins. Click “Next” to continue.

Trials will start with a sequence of two squares. There will be two trials of each sequence length, and the number of squares in a sequence will then increase by one whenever you get at least one of two sequences correct. The game ends when you reach a sequence length where you cannot correctly match either of the two sequences.

Video Demonstration

In this activity, squares light up one at a time, and the participant repeats that sequence by clicking on squares (or touching the squares, if using a touchscreen).

This short video by PEBL Video Tutorials demonstrates how the test is administered and can be shown to students to help them understand what their task is.


Corsi, P. M. (1972). Human Memory and the Medial Temporal Region of the Brain [Doctoral dissertation, McGill University].