Wechsler Memory Scale – Fourth Edition
In recognition of emerging demographic and clinical trends, the WMS—IV was developed to provide you with the most advanced measure of memory and results you can trust when addressing the changing clinical landscape.
Responding to influencing factors:
- Updated normative data for ages 16-90 years
- Enhanced utility for older adults
Emerging Clinical Needs
- New clinical studies
New Research in the Field
- Newly developed subtests and items
- Reduced administration time to obtain composite scores
- Improved scoring rules
4 Revision Goals
- Expanded clinical utility
- Enhanced user-friendliness
- Improved psychometric properties
- Updated test structure
Features & Benefits
Expanded Clinical utility
- Improved floors across subtests
- Included a general cognitive screening tool
- Enhanced assessment of visual memory
- Co-normed with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale®-IV
Enhanced User Friendliness
- Included a brief older adult battery
- Reduced subtest administration time
- Minimized visual motor demands
- Assessed working memory
- Modified story content and administration process
Improved Psychometric Properties
- Updated norms
- Improved floors
- Improved subtest and composite reliability
- Reduced item bias
Areas of Assessment
Updated Test Structure
The WMS-IV has had significant changes to the overall test structure. Based on feedback from customers, we are introducing four new subtests and modifying three existing subtests.
4 subtests were added:
- Spatial Addition
- Symbol Span
- Design Memory
- General Cognitive Screener
3 subtests retained with modifications:
- Logical Memory
Although the stories remain the same as seen in WMS-III for ages 16-69 years old, the repetition trial for Story B has been dropped to increase the consistency with previous editions. For the older age range of 65-90 years old, a new story was developed with content more relevant. The story is shorter and repeated once to enable adequate floor through age 90. You can obtain immediate versus delay and recognition versus delay contrast scores.
- Verbal Paired Associates
It now includes a combination of difficult and easy items. For the younger age group (16-69 years) there are 14 items of which 10 are hard. For the older age group (65-90 years), there are 10 items of which six are hard. Delayed Free Recall Trial has been added while Recognition Trial has increased its level of difficulty. You can obtain immediate versus delay and recognition versus delay contrast scores.
- Visual Reproduction
While following the same structure and format as seen in WMS-III, there have been a few changes to the subtest. Recognition Trial has been shortened and scoring has been improved. Based on Munro Cullum’s research, scoring is easier and faster than previously experienced and emphasizes recall with less focus on drawing accuracy. You can obtain immediate versus delay and recognition versus delay contrast scores.
8 subtests were eliminated:
- Information & Orientation
- Spatial Span
- Mental Control
- Digit Span
- Family Pictures
- Letter Number
- Word List (CVLT-II can be entered into Index)
Based on “N-Back Paradigm”, Spatial Addition requires minimal motor function as the client must:
- Remember location of dots on two separate pages
- Add or subtract locations
- Hold and manipulate visual spatial information
A “Visual analog to Digit Span”, clients are asked to remember the design and the left to right sequence of the design. The clients are then asked to select the correct design from foils and choose them in the correct sequence.
No more motor requirements
Containing four items of increasing difficulty, Design Memory evaluates immediate and delayed recall as well as delayed recognition. It does not include drawing and reduces the opportunity to guess the correct response. You can obtain scores for spatial, details, and correct content in the correct location as well as contrast scores for spatial versus detail, immediate versus delayed, and recognition versus delayed.
Obtain scores for spatial, details, and correct content in the correct location.
This new screener can be used to quickly evaluate significant cognitive impairment. You can assess:
- Temporal orientation
- Mental control
- Clock drawing
- Inhibitory control
- Verbal productivity
Also available are classification tables that translate total scores into Average, Low, Moderately low, and Very low.
WMS–IV Flexible Approach
For use with the WMS-IV kit, new materials and data are now available that enable more flexible assessment based on individual client needs and examiner preferences.
- New record form and corresponding normative data allow brief administration and generation of alternative memory indexes.
- Additional new record form and corresponding normative data enable administration of new supplemental subtests (Logos and Names). The subtests provide an alternative memory index that eliminates motor demands on clients.
- Applicable normative information is available for all current WMS–IV users at no charge via a software update for scoring and reporting software users or via an electronic norms disk for non-software users.
The WMS-IV offers a number of subtest configurations that yield Immediate, Delayed, Visual and Auditory Memory Index scores. The combinations of subtests reflect the desire to reduce administration time and to address specific clinical situations (e.g., limited motor ability).
The Standard WMS-IV: This consists of the 7 primary subtests that comprise the full WMS-IV battery and provide coverage for all the memory indexes.
The OAA* Battery: The OAA battery was developed in the standard WMS-IV as a shorter battery for use with older adults ages 65 to 90. This battery configuration was made available for examinees ages 16 through 69 in the WMS-IV Flex. The OAA battery uses LM, VR, and Verbal Paired Associates (VPA) to derive Immediate, Delayed, Auditory, and Visual Indexes.
The LMVR and LMDE* Batteries:
Two shorter alternative batteries were developed: LMVR, consisting of Logical Memory (LM) and Visual Reproduction (VR), and LMDE, consisting of Logical Memory and Designs (DE). LM and VR are the most frequently used subtests in the previous editions of the WMS and provide coverage for all the memory indexes. The second configuration of LM and DE retains the
content coverage with reduced motor demands.
The VRLO and LONA Batteries:
The last set of alternate batteries focuses on using supplemental subtests for assessing visual memory, which is a difficult construct to measure. During the development of the WMS-IV, two additional memory subtests were created: Logos (LO) and Names (NA). These two subtests provide optional measures of visual memory with the understanding that auditory memory functioning will also affect performance on these tests.
*LMDE and OAA batteries can be collected using standard WMS-IV record forms and an accompanying worksheet provided in the WMS-IV Flexible Manual.
- Scores are now derived for Older Adult Battery (65–90) and Adult Battery (16–69)
- Ability / Memory Discrepancy Scores (for use with WAIS–IV)
- Index Scores
- Auditory Memory
- Visual Memory
- Visual Working Memory
- Immediate Memory
- Delayed Memory
- NEW – Contrast Scores (PPT - 268 KB)
- Scaled scores contrasting performance across scores
- Provide information on clinical significance of changes in scores across subtests or indexes
WMS-IV Scoring Assistant
View a sample copy of the Scoring Report to accompany WMS-IV
WMS-IV Report Writer
Overview of the Wechsler Memory Scales-Fourth Edition (WMS®-IV)
Presenter: Gloria Maccow, PhD
The Wechsler Memory Scale-Fourth Edition is an individually administered battery designed to assess various memory and working memory abilities of individuals ages 16-90 years. The WMS-IV offers a brief evaluation of cognitive status and provides a detailed assessment of clinically-relevant aspects of memory functioning commonly reported in individuals with suspected memory deficits or diagnosed with a wide range of neurological, psychiatric, and developmental disorders. Scores from the WMS-IV subtests are organized into summary index scores.
WMS-IV Introductory Webinar
This introductory, overview webinar will describe administration and scoring of the subtests and interpretation of the results. The webinar will be presented in three separate modules, each one hour in length. During Module One, the presenter will discuss the administration and scoring of the Brief Cognitive Status Exam and the subtests on the Auditory Memory Index. Module Two will focus on administration and scoring of the subtests on the Visual Memory Index and the Visual Working Memory Index. Module Three will focus on the basic interpretation of WMS-IV results.
WMS-IV: Module One
During Module One, the presenter will discuss the administration and scoring of the Brief Cognitive Status Exam and the subtests on the Auditory Memory Index.
WMS-IV: Module Two
Module Two will focus on administration and scoring of the subtests on the Visual Memory Index and the Visual Working Memory Index.
WMS-IV: Module Three
Module Three will focus on the basic interpretation of WMS-IV results.
Date: Sep 09, 2011
Overview of the WMS-IV: Flexible Approach
Presenter: Gloria Maccow, PhD
The WMS®–IV Flexible Approach uses core and supplemental memory measures to expand the usability and utility of the Wechsler Memory Scale®–Fourth Edition (WMS–IV; Wechsler, 2009). The WMS®–IV Flexible Approach enables clinicians to identify memory difficulties by using alternate indexes derived from new subtest configurations. These alternate indexes and supplemental subtests were designed to create shorter or alternate memory assessments for use with the standard WMS–IV kit. The WMS–IV Flexible Approach allows the examiner to complete a survey of memory functions when a comprehensive evaluation of memory functioning is not required or cannot be completed.
During this one hour webinar, the presenter will describe the WMS®–IV Flexible Approach Batteries. The focus will be on the available subtest combinations clinicians can use to derive Index scores for Immediate, Delayed, Visual, and Auditory Memory.
Date: Mar 08, 2011
Frequently asked questions follow. Click on a question to see the response.
On the Brief Cognitive Status Exam, Item 11 (Inhibition), the examiner is supposed to administer the sample item, and then tell the examinee to do the same thing for the actual item. After I demonstrate the entire row and tell them I want them to do the “same thing,” should the examinee redo the first row that I just showed them and continue on, or should they begin with Line 2 (and continue from where I left off)?
The examinee begins back at the first item of the first row. The maximum number of points for this item is 24, reflecting the 24 shapes in the item.
The verbal load on many of the Visual Memory and Visual Working Memory subtest instructions seems substantial. We are concerned that the difficulties a client may experience in understanding the directions may cloud the results of these Visual Memory subtests.
Working memory is presented for a visual modality in WMS–IV as the Visual Working Memory Index. This index is derived from the sum of scaled scores for Spatial Addition and Symbol Span. Construction of stimuli used for these subtests purposely minimized the degree to which the stimuli could be verbalized and, subsequently, invoking the verbal working memory system. VWMI correlates at .53 with Verbal Comprehension, similar to the correlation with Processing Speed (r = .51), but less than Perceptual Reasoning (r = .67) and Working Memory (r = .62). There is no evidence of a negative impact to VWMI relative to other skill areas in the clinical samples with significant language deficits. If you have a concern about a specific client not understanding the instructions, it is allowable to repeat the examples and directions until they understand the task.
Please explain why the Designs task is better than the Faces task. Besides the fact that it is more difficult to verbally mediate the Designs task, and that there may be other confounds on a face memory task, it seems that there are significant executive functioning demands with Designs and it appears to be an incredibly difficult task! (i.e., there are lots of distracters that have many similarities to the target stimuli; consequently, establishing relevant from irrelevant may be difficult).
Face memory is a specific type of memory function that is often impaired in clinical groups with known social perception deficits (e.g., Schizophrenia, Autism) and is sometimes sensitive to right–left differences in temporal lobe epilepsy. The WMS–III Faces subtest has a relatively high guess rate that lowers its reliability relative to other memory tasks. Faces generally has low communality with other memory measures. The Faces subtest is useful for specific types of memory evaluations, but results may not operate as expected as a general indicator of visual memory. The Designs subtest was developed specifically to measure spatial and detail segments of memory functioning, as well as the integration of these in recall. This follows the segmentation of the visual system that has a dorsal stream, which processes primarily visual-spatial aspects of memory and the ventral stream that processes visual details with the purpose of attaching verbal labels where possible. Most visual memory measures do not enable the examiner to differentiate the nature of the visual memory problem and, therefore, makes interpretation more difficult. As far as executive functioning or attention to detail is concerned, the Designs subtest is comparable to most visual memory measures in this respect. For example, in the Faces subtest, the distracter faces are similar to one of the target faces. Family Pictures (WMS–III) and Picture Memory (WRAML–II) require attention to details, as well as visual scanning and search abilities. Tests such as the Rey-Complex Figure are used to measure executive functioning (see Bernstein & Waber, 1996) and visual memory. The Designs subtest requires fewer demands on executive functioning than other commonly used visual memory measures.
What are Contrast Scores and how do I use them?
Contrast scores enable you to partition overlapping variance between related abilities or a precursor ability of the construct of interest. In the contrast score name, the first score is the control variable and the second score is the dependent measure. For example, in the Logical Memory Immediate Recall vs. Delayed Recall contrast scaled score, the Logical Memory I scaled score is the control variable and the Logical Memory II scaled score is the dependent measure.
Contrast scaled scores are scaled on a mean of 10 and a standard deviation of 3, but should not be considered a replacement for the standard age-adjusted scaled scores. Contrast scores supplement standard age-adjusted scores and answer specific questions regarding an examinee’s performance. They should not be reported or interpreted as being the examinee’s performance relative to same-age peers.
Continuing with the Logical Memory example, the standard age-adjusted scaled score answers the question, “Is the examinee’s Logical Memory Delayed Recall impaired?” while the contrast score answers the question, “Is the examinee’s Logical Memory Delayed Recall impaired given their initial encoding of the stories during Immediate Recall?” This contrast score reflects the examinee’s performance during delayed recall controlling for performance during immediate recall. In other words, the Logical Memory II scaled score is being adjusted for the Logical Memory I scaled score.
Using the contrast score to supplement the information provided by the standard age-adjusted score, the interpretation of the two scores may be, “Client A’s Logical Memory Delayed Recall is in the Borderline range of functioning in comparison to same age peers. However, given the amount of material initially encoded during Immediate Recall, Client A’s performance is within the Low Average range of functioning.”
Contrast scores between 8 and 12 indicate that performance on the control and dependent variables is not significantly different. For example, the examinee’s delayed recall is what you would expect given their initial encoding of the stories. Contrast scores greater than 12 suggest, for example, that delayed recall is better than expected given their initial encoding of the stories. Contrast scores less than 8 suggest delayed recall is worse than expected given the examinee’s initial encoding of the stories. For further case studies using Contrast scores, see the Contrast Scaled Scores presentation on the WMS–IV website.
Which medications were listed as acceptable and how did you decide they were? What medications were examinees taking, e.g., Aricept for Alzheimer’s?
The exclusion and inclusion criteria in the WMS–IV Technical and Interpretive Manual Table 2.1 and Appendix D, respectively, list medication guidelines used in the normative sample and special groups. Medications were designated as acceptable, provisionally acceptable, or excluded during standardization case collection. A key factor in deciding the acceptability of a medication was its impact on the examinee’s functioning during test administration. The Neppe Psychological Symptom Questionnaire (NPSQ) and NPSQ Acceptance Criteria Checklist were used in the initial screening to gather information on medication type, reason for taking it, dosage/frequency, and any side effects/symptoms within 2 days prior to testing. Cases that involved excluded medications or did not meet NPSQ criteria were excluded from the study. The WMS–IV development team made decisions on a case-by-case basis if medications were not included on one of the three lists or were excluded for other reasons (e.g., off-label medication use). A variety of medications were being taken by individuals in the normative and clinical groups. In all circumstances, allowed medications were not suspected of interfering with an examinee’s test performance. Examiners reported on whether they felt medication use affected examinee test performance.
Do you have more information about the clinical groups reported in the WMS–IV (e.g., TBI, ALZ)?
The WMS–IV Technical and Interpretive Manual lists the Exclusion criteria (Table 2.1) and the general and special group-specific inclusion criteria (Appendix D) reported. Where appropriate, DSM-IV-TR criteria and other well-established guidelines for diagnostic purposes were followed. When possible, information regarding premorbid functioning was gathered.
Where can I get training on administering the WMS–IV?
A brief training video has been produced by Pearson and will be available to all WMS–IV users. You may also contact our customer service line for specific questions about the WMS–IV, including requests for webinars or site training sessions.
In the past, the Wechsler Memory Test came with a cardboard easel so that the instruction panels are not visible to the examinee. The WMS–IV does not. What did the developers consider when they changed the format of the stimulus books?
We received many customer complaints about the durability of the WMS–III Stimulus Books. Using a flat Stimulus Book should improve the lifespan of the materials and improve administration. It’s easier to administer Symbol Span, Designs Recognition, and Visual Reproduction with a flat Stimulus Book because the examinee is required to point to a response. The flat presentation also reduces the likelihood that the examiner will need to ask the examinee for a verbal response. For the Spatial Addition and Designs tasks, a flat Stimulus Book presents the same visual plane as the examinee’s responses, reducing the confounding spatial resolution issues between the presentation and response mode. The WMS–IV was normed using a flat Stimulus Book. If you prop up the book, it is considered a nonstandardized administration and would possibly invalidate test results. To facilitate the flat orientation, all correct responses have been moved to the Record Forms.
My office just changed our operating system from XP to VistA. We were told by a Pearson representative that there is no upgrade for the CVLT–II. Is that true?
CVLT–II was recently certified to work on Vista operating systems, both 32 bit and 64 bit OS, so there should be no issue. An update is not required to work with WMS–IV.
Why is there no opportunity to repeat the Joe Garcia story? Many clinicians like to evaluate if repeating the story benefits the examinee and if there is a difference in narrative recall for immediate and delayed recall for each of the stories.
The repetition of Joe Garcia was dropped because there is already a learning task on Verbal Paired Associates. If you repeat the Joe Garcia story, you cannot compare how well someone performs on delayed recall when they have the repetition versus when they do not. It was necessary to repeat a story for the older age group because there would be insufficient floor if it was not repeated.
Why is the WMS–IV devoid of human figures?
The decision was made to omit the Faces subtest from WMS–IV and include it in the Advanced Clinical Solutions for WAIS-IV and WMS–IV Social Cognition battery. The Faces subtest measures a very specific memory process that is not necessarily the best measure for routine neuropsychological evaluations. If you are assessing individuals with Schizophrenia or an Autism Spectrum disorder, you may find the ACS Social Perception subtest very beneficial. The subtest provides valuable information about facial processing without the memory component If you prefer to use Family Pictures or Faces, you may continue to use the WMS–III version. Remember that the norms only get softer, so if an individual is mildly impaired, the older norms may not detect the more subtle memory impairment.
The Spatial Addition task seems as if it would be too confusing for impaired or elderly patients. If you are testing patients with Alzheimer’s disease, can they understand the task and get a scoreable response?
The Spatial Addition task is for examinees, ages 16–69 years, who are taking the Adult Battery. Many of the examinees classified as Probable Dementia in the Alzheimer’s Type group were administered the Older Adult Battery and did not have the opportunity to take Spatial Addition. The Mild Cognitive Impairment group did not have difficulty understanding the task and producing scoreable responses. If an examinee is younger than age 65 and has difficulty understanding the task due to severe dementia, they most likely will have difficulty throughout much of the evaluation. In the moderate and mild intellectually disabled groups, the VWMI, which Spatial Addition contributes to, was consistent with their overall working memory abilities and General Ability.
Why was Digit Span dropped from WMS–IV?
One of the WMS–IV development goals was to eliminate content that overlaps with the WAIS–IV, which affected a few subtests. Dropping Digit Span ensured that the same construct (i.e., working memory) was not measured in the same modality in both instruments and ensured that disparate working memory scores between the two batteries would not occur. WMS–III and WAIS–III had disparate working memory scores because different subtests contributed to the Working Memory Indexes. WAIS-III and WMS–III Indexes included Letter-Number Sequencing, but Spatial Span was the second contributing subtest in WMS–III with Digit Span considered only as an optional subtest. By dropping Digit Span, the WMS–IV has a strong focus on components of visual working memory and the WAIS-IV focuses on auditory working memory.
Why was Letter-Number Sequencing dropped from WMS–IV?
The elimination of Letter-Number Sequencing ensured that the same construct (i.e., working memory) was not measured in the same modality in both instruments. Both WAIS-III and WMS–III included Letter-Number Sequencing in the Working Memory Index. The elimination of Letter-Number Sequencing strengthens the focus of WMS–IV on components of visual working memory, while WAIS–IV focuses on auditory working memory.
Why were the Mental Control, Information, and Orientation subtests dropped from WMS–IV?
These subtests were moved from the WMS–IV to the Brief Cognitive Status Exam (BCSE). Their usefulness in providing sensitivity and differentiation between normal and clinical performance and as a brief screening of an individual’s level of cognitive functioning was proven during standardization. The BCSE yielded similar or better information than the MMSE and AQT. Each of these subtests was optional in the WMS–III and customer surveys revealed that they were rarely administered.
Why was Faces dropped from WMS–IV?
The Faces subtest was revised and is part of the Advanced Clinical Solutions for WAIS-IV and WMS–IV. Faces is a specific memory process that does not correlate well with other memory functions and has limited sensitivity as a general visual memory tool. An examinee’s performance on the Faces subtest provides important information about social cognition, because it measures face discrimination as well as recognition.
Why was Family Pictures dropped?
Family Pictures was dropped because it is not a true visual memory task, it is primarily a visual-verbal association task. For the most part, Family Pictures is a verbal measure resulting in the WMS–III Visual Memory Index not holding well together. The WMS–IV Visual Memory Index is a more pure visual memory measure than the WMS–III. The Family Pictures subtest could be failed for a number of reasons including, naming difficulties, spatial memory problems, difficulties remembering visual details, impairments in visual-verbal association memory etc. The WMS–IV visual memory subtests help differentiate performance on some aspects of these while minimizing the impact of verbal encoding.
Why was Spatial Span dropped?
Examiners expressed concerns about tracking and recording of examinee responses which contributed to the decision to drop Spatial Span from the WMS–IV. One of the development goals for WMS–IV was to develop visual working memory tasks that require mental manipulation of visual information which Spatial Span does not since neither the backward nor forward condition require the examinee to operate on the information that have been shown.
Why was Word List dropped?
The Word List subtest was optional in WMS–III. The elimination of this subtest shortened the overall administration of the WMS–IV while the ability to substitute the CVLT-II scores for the Auditory, Immediate and Delayed Indexes was added to give examiners flexibility in the measures they wish to use including a type of word list task.
Why does WMS–IV focus on Visual Working Memory with out Verbal Working Memory?
A development goal for the WMS–IV was to avoid overlapping modalities and constructs with the WAIS-IV. The working memory tasks in the WAIS-IV require greater verbal demand thus the WMS–IV working memory focuses on a visual modality.
I often use Demographically Adjusted Norms, will those be available and if so, when?
These types of adjusted norms will be available through the ACS software late 2009.
I test low functioning individuals who appear to have difficulty completing the WMS–IV tasks. Is the WMS–IV appropriate for this population?
The WMS–IV showed good clinical utility, reliability, and concurrent validity during standardization, particularly in clinical groups. Although individuals express difficulty with these subtests, even moderately impaired individuals were able to complete some of the items, particularly on Designs. The Designs subtest is perceived by many individuals to be difficult specifically because the stimuli are difficult to verbalize. The language centers of the brain naturally want to name objects to ease encoding and thus invoke verbal memory processes to aid visual memory functioning. The Designs subtest has multiple items of varying difficulty subsequently it is not difficult for examinees to get some points. The examinee may need to be encouraged to try even though it seems difficult. Interestingly, the intellectually disabled (mild and moderate) had some of their best scores on the Designs subtest. On Spatial Addition we did not see very many 0 scores during standardization so even very impaired people were completing the task correctly on early items, they just tended to discontinue earlier.