The SDMT provides a quick screening for organic cerebral dysfunction in both children and adults.
Individuals 8 years and older
The Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) detects cognitive impairment in less than five minutes. This simple, economical test is an ideal way for busy clinicians to screen for organic cerebral dysfunction in both children (eight years and older) and adults.
The SDMT is brief, easy to administer, and has demonstrated remarkable sensitivity in detecting not only the presence of brain damage, but also changes in cognitive functioning over time and in response to treatment.
The SDMT involves a simple substitution task that normal children and adults can easily perform. Using a reference key, the test taker has 90 seconds to pair specific numbers with given geometric figures. Responses can be written or given orally, and administration time is just five minutes for either response mode. The AutoScore Test Form simplifies scoring.
Individuals with cerebral dysfunction perform poorly on the SDMT, in spite of normal or above average intelligence. Studies documented in the SDMT Manual have shown the test effective in a wide range of clinical applications, including:
- Differentiation of brain-damaged from psychotic patients
- Differentiation of organics from depressives
- Early detection of senile dementia and Huntington's disease
- Differential diagnosis of children with learning disorders
- Early identification of children likely to have reading problems
- Assessment of change in cognitive functioning over time and/or with therapy in individuals with traumatic, vascular, neoplastic, and other brain insults
- Assessment of recovery from closed-head injury.
As the test takers can give written or spoken responses, SDMT can be used with almost anyone, including those with motor disabilities or speech disorders. The SDMT is relatively culture-free as it only involves geometric figures and numbers, the SDMT is relatively culture-free as well, and can be administered to non-English speakers.
The written form of the test lends itself to group administration and as such is an economical way to screen apparently normal children and adults for possible motor, visual, learning, or other cerebral dysfunction.
The SDMT is highly effective as an initial screener, and is optimally used as part of a battery of tests. It is widely used to assess individuals with:
- Head Injuries
- Brain Tumors
- Reading Difficulties
- Learning Disorders
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Viral, Bacterial, and Other Cerebral Infections
- Pre-, Peri-, and Early Postnatal Insults Senile Dementia
- Cerebral Anoxia
- Huntington's Disease
Qualification level required:
Level 2. Please see our Test User Qualifications page for guidance