New Evidence for Gender Differences in Performing the Corsi Test but Not the Digit Span: Data from 208 Individuals

Laura Piccardi, Giovanni D’Antuono, Dario Marin, Maddalena Boccia, Paola Ciurli, Chiara Incoccia, Gabriella Antonucci, Paola Verde, Cecilia Guariglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated whether the gender differences in working memory are linked to the nature of the stimuli (verbal vs. visuo-spatial) or to the type of processing (active vs. passive). With this aim, we administered two well-known tests: Corsi Block-tapping test (CBT) and the Digit span (DS) using two versions: forward (fCBT and fDS) and backward (bCBT and bDS). During the forward processing (fCBT and fDS), subjects being required to repeat stimuli in the same order they are presented, passive working memory is assessed. Otherwise, during the backward processing (bCBT and bDS), subjects being required repeating stimuli in an order opposite to that of presentation, active working memory is assessed. A total of 208 college students (104 women) were assessed. We found a gender effect on fCBT and bCBT, but not on fDS and bDS, with men outperforming women. The results from the present study support previous findings in which the presence of gender differences emerged in visuo-spatial working memory, that is, when verbal encoding is less efficacious with respect to other strategies. Failing in finding the opposite trend in fDS and bDS, that is, women performing better than men on these tasks, previously documented, may be due to the fact that we selected a sample of young subjects with the same educational level. Indeed, gender differences in verbal working memory have been reported especially for low level of education. Furthermore, our results suggest that such differences are more related to the type of material (verbal vs. visuo-spatial) more than to the type of processing (active vs. passive). This last finding supports the idea that when age and educational level are well matched among sexes, differences due to the stimuli processing disappear.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Corsi Block-tapping test
  • Sex differences
  • Short-term memory
  • Verbal working memory
  • Visuo-spatial working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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