Can somebody provide a standard test to measure ones working memory & short term memory

Can somebody provide a standard test to measure ones working memory & short term memory

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I suffer from memory problem but find it difficult to undrstand whether it is more belief based or real, need a standard test to confirm.

It might be difficult to distinguish between belief-based and actual memory difficulties, especially in a self-administered test. The most objective measure would be a computerised assessment, e.g. the Automatic Working Memory Assessment, which contains measures of short-term and working memory in the verbal and spatial domain [1]. Some commonly used assessments of these constructs are [2]:

Verbal short-term memory: digit span, running span
Verbal working memory: backward digit span, n-back span
Spatial short-term memory: dot matrix, forward Corsi block task
Spatial working memory: backward Corsi block task


Tests used in diagnosing dementia

The first step towards a diagnosis is to talk to your doctor about your concerns.

It is a good idea to take a close family member or friend along to help provide the doctor with all the information they need.

It is also a good idea to take along a list of the memory and thinking changes that have been concerning you, including when you first noticed them and how often you notice them.

You should also take a list of the medications you are taking or take your medications with you.

Your doctor may assess you and/or may refer you to a specialist such as a geriatrician (a specialist in illnesses and disabilities in older people), a neurologist (a specialist in disorders of the brain and nerves), or a psychiatrist (a specialist in disorders of emotion and behaviour).

Assessment for dementia usually includes the following:

Personal history

The doctor usually spends some time discussing your medical history and gathering information about your changes in memory and thinking.

Physical examination and laboratory tests

The symptoms of dementia can be due to a number of other possible causes, such as vitamin deficiency, infection, metabolic disorders and side effects from drugs.

These other causes are often easily treated.

Therefore, an early step in diagnosing dementia is to rule out these causes through a physical examination, blood tests and urine tests.

Routine laboratory tests used in the diagnosis of dementia include:

  • Blood tests to investigate:
    • Anaemia
    • Infection
    • Electrolyte balance (salt and water)
    • Liver function
    • Vitamin B12 deficiency
    • Thyroid function
    • Drug interactions and dosing problems

    Cognitive testing

    Cognitive tests are used to measure and evaluate cognitive, or ‘thinking’, functions such as memory, concentration, visual-spatial awareness, problem solving, counting and language skills.

    Most doctors use short cognitive screening tests when assessing these functions. If more detailed testing is required you will be referred to a neuropsychologist – a psychologist specialising in the assessment and measurement of cognitive function.

    Cognitive tests are vital in the diagnosis of dementia and are often used to differentiate between types of dementia. They can also be used to assess mood and may help diagnose depression, which can cause symptoms similar to those of dementia.

    Special arrangements can be made for testing people whose first language is not English or who have communication difficulties. Your doctor can give you advice about this.

    Some of the commonly used cognitive tests include:

    Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE)

    This test is usually conducted by your doctor or specialist in their office and takes around 5 minutes to complete. The MMSE is the most common test for the screening of dementia. It assesses skills such as reading, writing, orientation and short-term memory.

    Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive (ADAS-Cog)

    This 11-part test is more thorough than the MMSE and can be used for people with mild symptoms.

    It is considered the best brief examination for memory and language skills.

    It takes around 30 minutes and is usually conducted by a specialist in their office, or you may be referred to a psychologist for the test.

    Neuropsychological Testing

    This involves a number of very sensitive tests administered by a neuropsychologist (a psychologist who has been trained in the assessment of dementia and other disorders of the brain).

    A typical testing session will take at least 2 hours and may be conducted over more than one visit.

    A variety of tests will be used and may include tests of memory such as recall of a paragraph, tests of the ability to copy drawings or figures and tests of reasoning and comprehension.

    Radiological tests

    Standard X-rays may be taken and those who smoke will commonly require a chest X-ray to rule out lung cancer, which may be causing a secondary brain tumour.

    Brain imaging techniques

    Various brain-imaging techniques are sometimes used to show brain changes and to rule out other conditions such as tumour, infarcts (strokes – dead areas of brain tissue) and hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) these include:

    • Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan
      This technique involves taking many X-rays from different angles in a very short period of time. These images are then used to create a 3-dimensional image of the brain. CT scans are mainly used to rule out other causes of dementia such as stroke, brain tumour, multiple sclerosis or haemorrhage. They can show certain changes that are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease or other causes of dementia.
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
      This technique uses powerful magnets and radiowaves to produce very clear 3-dimensional images of the brain. Currently MRI is the radiological test of choice. As well as ruling out treatable causes of dementia, MRI can reveal patterns of brain tissue loss, which can be used to discriminate between different forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.
    • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single-Photon Emission Computerized Tomography (SPECT)
      In both of these tests, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into the patient and detectors in the scanner detect emissions from the brain. PET provides visual images of activity in the brain. SPECT is used to measure blood flow to various regions of the brain.

    Some questions you may wish to ask you doctor regarding tests used in diagnosing dementia.

    If you are diagnosed with dementia

    Obtaining an early and accurate diagnosis can improve the quality of life for people with dementia.

    Talk to your doctor about treatment and ongoing assessment.

    Support and information is available through the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

    By Evelyn Lee

    Art by Peau Porotesano

    Standardized tests: You couldn’t have gotten into Pepperdine without taking at least a few of them, and even before the dreaded SAT or ACT, there was a slew of standardized tests throughout primary and secondary school.

    Standardized tests began in the U.S. “as the Industrial Revolution … took school-age kids out of the farms and factories and put them behind desks, standardized examinations emerged as an easy way to test large numbers of students quickly,” according to the TIME Magazine article “Standardized Testing” published Dec. 11, 2009 by Dan Fletcher.

    As time went on, the SAT and ACT tests were created to test students entering college, then when No Child Left Behind was signed into law in 2001, the lucky students in grades 3 through 8 (yay us!) were required to take standardized tests every year in order to determine the quality of public education for all students, according to the article “No Child Left Behind – The New Rules.”

    The problem is, standardized tests aren’t an accurate measure of the quality of a student’s education, or even of a student’s intellect. These tests often show inherent biases. In a 2013 report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation titled “Early Warning Confirmed” describes how “researchers of the poverty/achievement connection have quantified the gap between children from low-income and wealthier families and tracked the gap’s growth over time.

    An analysis of data from 19 nationally representative studies by Stanford University sociologist Sean Reardon found that the gap between children of families from the lowest and highest quartiles of socioeconomic status is more than one standard deviation on reading tests at kindergarten entry, an amount equal to roughly three to six years of learning in middle or high school.”

    They also found that the relationship “between a family’s position in the income distribution and their children’s academic achievement has grown substantially stronger during the last half-century.”

    In addition, these scores may not mean much scholastically speaking. Aspects of an application such as high school GPA are the main determinant of how well a student does at a university — not SAT scores. In fact, those scores don’t say much at all with regard to how well a student will do in school, according to a Feb. 18, 2014 PBS article “Do ACT and SAT scores really matter? New study says they shouldn’t” by Sarah Sheffer,

    But what can be used in lieu of standardized tests? Despite all of its shortcomings, it gives a common bar of measure for schools across the country, and there currently isn’t much of a replacement system in place. In her Jan. 6, 2015 NPR article “What Schools Could Use Instead of Standardized Tests,” Anya Kamenetz discussed what else could be done. For one, states can have representative samples of the population take the standardized exams rather than every single student.

    Secondly, the software that the large textbook corporations push out with their textbooks could be used to measure the improvement of students as a sort of “stealth assessment,” which will get rid of the anxiety that comes with taking one long standardized test. Thirdly, schools could take part in providing a wider range of measures outside of a single test, or like Scotland, schools can be inspected by government officials.

    Lastly, it’s important to remember that standardized tests don’t measure intelligence. What they measure is how well a student can sit and take a test. They measure how well students can learn the tricks to beat the system. They place entire futures on one three to four-hour block of time. Maybe it’s time to just do away with them.

    IQ Test Scores

    Receipt of scores will depend largely on which test is being taken. In general, accepted IQ ranges are as follows, from the WAIS-IV:

    IQ Score Range WAIS-IV Classification
    130+ Very Superior
    120–129 Superior
    110–119 High Average
    90–109 Average
    80–89 Low Average
    70–79 Borderline
    69 and below Extremely Low

    An IQ test is a great way to see where you fall on the intelligence quotient scale.


    Robyn S. Hess , Rik Carl Dɺmato , in Comprehensive Clinical Psychology , 1998 Short-term and Long-term Memory

    As already noted, each component of the memory process is reliant upon the previous steps. If information in sensory storage undergoes additional processing, it becomes a more lasting memory (short-term or long-term). Furthermore, these different memory functions must be systematically reviewed through visual and aural modalities using both recall and recognition tasks. Lezak (1995) suggests that at a minimum, the memory examination should include: immediate retention tasks, including short-term memory with interference learning in terms of extent of recent memory, learning capacity, and how well newly learned material is retained and efficiency of retrieval of both recently learned and long-stored information (i.e., remote memory).

    Informal methods of assessment include tests of immediate recall such as digit repetition and/or sentence repetition, interviewing for information from remote memory (e.g., “where were you born?”), and new learning ability (e.g., immediate recall for a verbal story, asking the individual to remember four unrelated words for a span of 5, 10, and 30 minutes). During this last task, the examiner can provide recognition cues if the individual is having difficulty remembering the words. It is expected that those without difficulties will remember all words, while those with brain damage might be expected to remember one ( Black & Strub, 1994 ). For aphasic clients or those with other speech or language problems, an informal measure of visual memory can be completed by hiding five objects around the interview room as the client names each item as it is hidden. After 10 minutes, the client is asked for name and location of each item. Reportedly, both normal and lower IQ clients should be able to find all five objects, with slightly lower performance for older patients (approximately four objects) ( Black & Strub, 1994 Simpson, Black, & Strub, 1986 ). These memory tasks should be supplemented with observations and interviews with family members. So too, if an ability measure such as the WISC-III or WAIS-R is administered, performance on Digit Span can provide information on immediate verbal retention and the information subtest can be an indicator of the extent of remote memory in an individual.

    To complete an assessment of the major dimensions of memory, Lezak (1995) has suggested including:

    a test of configural recall and attention such as the visual reproduction subtest on the Wechsler Memory Scale ( Wechsler, 1987 ) or the Benton Visual Retention Test ( Benton-Sivan, 1992 )

    a paragraph for recall to examine learning and retention of meaningful verbal material and

    a test of learning ability that gives a learning curve and includes a recognition trial, such as Rey's Auditory-Verbal Learning Test (for review see Lezak, 1995 ).

    These techniques should be integrated into the general clinical interview to create a varied testing format, to enable the practitioner to use nonmemory tasks as interference activities, and to reduce stress in those clients who have memory impairments and are concerned about their abilities ( Black & Strub, 1994 ).

    There are numerous formal instruments available which measure different dimensions of memory. For children and adolescents, the Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning ( Sheslow & Adams, 1990 ), and the Test of Memory and Learning (TOMAL Reynolds & Bigler, 1994 ) can be used to evaluate individual strengths and weaknesses in the areas of memory and attention. In particular, the TOMAL represents a reliable, empirically sound measure for children and adolescents. The TOMAL consists of four core indexes comprising Verbal Memory, Nonverbal Memory, Composite Memory, and Delayed Recall. Supplementary indexes for Learning, Attention and Concentration, Sequential Memory, Free Recall, and Associative Recall are also provided. Subtests include Memory for Stories, Facial Memory, Word Selective Reminding, Visual Selective Reminding, Object Recall, Abstract Visual Memory, Digits Forward, Visual Sequential Memory, Paired Recall, Memory-for-Location, Manual Imitation, Letters Forward, Digits Backward, and Letters Backward. The TOMAL was standardized for children aged 5 to 19.

    The TOMAL boasts many unique features, including a great variety of memory indexes ( Reynolds & Bigler, 1994 ). While some of the subtests appear similar to other memory measures, some unique features of this test include a learning index where teaching is permissible, a sequential memory index, and an attention and concentration index. Delayed recall subtests are also available and are offered as an evaluation of forgetting or memory decay. It is possible to compare the examinee's own personal learning curve with a standardized learning curve. The test is easy to administer and generally user-friendly. Its psychometric properties appear to be well-developed. In the TOMAL subtests, 63% of the reliability coefficients are at or exceed 0.9, 31% are between 0.8 and 0.89, and only 6% fall below 0.8. Test–retest coefficients range from 0.71 to 0.91. Support for the validity of this instrument was determined through indices of content validity, construct validity (e.g., factor analytic studies), and criterion-related validity.

    Assessment of memory dysfunction in adults is easier than in children because their period of rapid intellectual, academic, and physical (including neurological) development has ended ( Reynolds & Bigler, 1994 ). In adults, memory dysfunction is associated with a variety of well-defined disorders, and in many individuals is one of the earliest and key symptoms such as in Korsakoff's disease and various other dementias including Alzheimer's disease. Because of the key role of evaluating memory in the clinical setting, there are a number of instruments designed for memory assessment in older populations including the Doors and People: A Test of Visual and Verbal Recall and Recognition ( Baddeley, Emslie & Nimmo-Smith, 1994 ), the Memory Assessment Scales (MAS Williams, 1991 ), and the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised (WMS-R Wechsler, 1987 ).

    The WMS-R ( Wechsler, 1987 ) provides an extensive measure of several dimensions of memory. It consists of eight short-term memory tests, four delayed-recall subtests, and a brief screening measure of mental status (i.e., information and orientation questions). The eight short-term memory tests yield four composite scores: Verbal Memory, Visual Memory, Total General Memory, and Attention/Concentration. The delayed-recall measures can be combined to derive a fifth composite score, Delayed Recall. The test is intended for use for individuals ranging in age from 16 to 74 and requires approximately 50 minutes to administer. The psychometric properties of the WMS-R are questionable in terms of low reliability coefficients for the composite scores (average r = 0.74), but provides stronger support for the General Memory and Attention/Concentration (average r = 0.81) scores. Although the WMS-R demonstrated satisfactory discrimination power between various clinical groups, factor analyses supported a two-factor rather than the hypothesized five-factor model. Huebner (1992) concluded that this instrument must be used cautiously in making clinical decisions about individuals and interpretation should be restricted to General Memory and Attention/Concentration ability.

    For adolescents and adults, the MAS ( Williams, 1991 ) also provides a valid, reliable, and comprehensive measure of memory functioning. The MAS was standardized for use with adults aged 18 to 90. The major functions measured by the MAS include: verbal and nonverbal learning and immediate memory verbal and nonverbal attention, concentration, and short-term memory and memory for verbal and nonverbal material following delay. In addition, measures of recognition, intrusions during verbal learning recall, and retrieval strategies are also available. The test consists of 12 subtests based on seven memory tasks. Five of the subtests assess the retention of information learned in a subtest administered earlier in the sequence. Total testing time is approximately one hour. Test-retest reliability for the MAS was estimated using generalizability coefficients and these correlations averaged 0.85 for the subtests, 0.9 for the summary scales (i.e., Short-Term Memory, Verbal Memory, and Visual Memory), and 0.95 for the global memory scale. The validity of the MAS was established using three types of studies: convergent and discriminant validity, factorial validity, and group differentiation. Despite these strengths, Berk (1995) concluded that clinicians should use caution in interpreting the scores until some technical problems (e.g., inadequate samples, lack of evidence for content validity) can be corrected.

    What are the various methods used for the measurement of human memory?

    Memory is an internal and unobservable process. At times we feel that we don’t remember all that we had learnt earlier. In such a situation, we come face to face with the imperfect nature of our own memories- our cognitive system for learning, storing, and retrieving information and throwing a challenge for its assessment. The credit for the first systematic assessment of memory goes to Ebbinghaus (1900).

    Since then several studies have been reported in which various methods of assessing (measuring) memory have evolved. The amount of information retained in memory can be inferred from observable performance on various tasks. There are both direct and indirect methods of measuring memory.

    The direct methods of assessing memory are: (i) recall, (ii) recognition, (iii) relearning, and (iv) reconstruction. The indirect method focuses on the amount of transfer of previous learning to a subsequent learning situation.


    The most widely used method of testing memory or measuring retention is the method of recall. It is a passive, but direct method of measuring retention. Reproduction of learnt materials after a time span is recall. It is actually repetition of learned material, i.e., verbatim (word for word) recitation. For example, one may recall a poem by reciting it even if he does not remember the circumstances under which he had learned.

    Recall involves verbal reproduction or repetition of previously learnt material. Recall becomes easier when materials are meaningful, interesting, short, and over learned. Recall is often categorized into: (i) Free Recall and ii) Serial Recall.

    I. Free Recall:

    Free recall allows us to summon up pieces of information out of order. For example, we may listen to a lecture and afterwards remember a few important quotes without recalling the order in which they were presented. Thus, in free recall, pieces of learnt materials may be recalled freely without following any specific order.

    II. Serial Recall:

    In serial recall the material is recalled in a very specific order i.e., in which it has been learned. For example, there are people (who) when asked the question- what is twelve multiplied by seven- may start from the beginning of multiplication chart twelve, and only then can recall the correct answer.

    Ebbinghaus (1885) used recall method for studying remembering and Drgetting. He was of the view that retention can be tested either by the method of (i) immediate recall or, (ii) delayed recall, When recall is made immediate after learning, it is called ‘immediate recall’ whereas, when recall is made after an interval of time, it is called ‘delayed recall’.

    It may be noted that failure to recall does not necessarily mean that there has been no retention. Fai to recall despite retention is known as recall amnesia. Sometimes du emotional disturbances like fear, anxiety and sudden shock, one fails to recall. Further, when the subject is motivated to learn, she/he can recall the items easily. Thus, motive plays a major role in recall.


    Recognition is considered as a sensitive method of measuring retention It is an active process where identification of elements takes place. Recognition is a common experience which refers to the fact that once the remembered event or word is in front of us, we know that we have stored it away before is familiar to us. Guilford (1917) viewed that recognition means knowing again Further, the essential difference between recall and recognition is that in first case, the stimulus is not there for one’s identification, whereas it is there in the second case.

    Thus, recognition is the identification of learnt material object from a combination (combined list) of learned and unlearned material The correct identification will provide the raw retention score. The percent of recognition can be derived by using certain formula.

    Percentage of Recognition =

    Where R =Total number of items correctly recognized.

    W = Total number of items incorrectly recognized.

    K= Total number of alternatives given for recognition (old + new).

    N= Number of items originally presented for learning.

    For example, let the learner recognize 4 out of 10 items with 10 alternates.

    Then, percentage of Recognition

    Recognition is easier than recall, because in recognition, the object present in a mixed form with certain new elements. The sensitiveness is greater in case of recognition, which is sometimes influenced by the subject’s attitude, prejudice, values, and other inner motives. Seeleman (1940) conducted an experiment on the role of motivation in recognition and observed that pleasant experiences are better remembered than unpleasant experiences.

    Further, it has been reported from other studies that with the increase of similarity between original learning materials to that of the new materials, recognition incomes difficult. While studying the process of recognition, usually two kinds of errors are noticed. They are:

    (i) Failure to recognize the familiar items, and

    (ii) False cognition of the new and unfamiliar items.

    We fail to recognize the familiar object, when it is seen under changed circumstances. We accept a new stimulus as the old stimulus when there is 2 lot of similarity between the two. The greater amount of similarity facilitates larger errors in recognition.

    Studies conducted by Skaggs and Robinson suggest that as similarity between the interpolated activity and original learning is reduced to a near identity, retention falls to a minimum and then rises again, but with decrease in similarity it never reaches the level obtained with maximum similarity.”


    The method of relearning is the most sensitive among all measures of retention. This method is otherwise known as the method of ‘saving’, which was introduced by Ebbinghaus (1885) for measuring the quantitative aspect of memory. In this method, a list of materials is presented to the subject up to perfect learning, and after a time gap, she/he is presented with the same list to relearn. The experimenter records the number of trials and time taken by the subject in relearning condition. The percentage of saving is found by the formula-

    Where OLT = Original learning trials RLT = Relearning trials For example, if a child takes 8 trials to learn the original task and 6 trials to relearn it, then the percentage of saving is = (8-6 / 8) X 100 = 25%


    Reconstruction involves the reproduction of the learned materials. Reconstruction technically means rearranging the parts of an original task, presented randomly. In this method, the stimuli are first presented in a certain arrangement, then this arrangement is broken up and the stimuli are handed over to the subject with instruction to reconstruct the original order.

    Suppose the parts of a plastic doll are joined to get a full figure of a doll, then the experimenter breaks it into pieces and asks the subject to rearrange the items to form a doll. If the subject can rearrange, then she/he gets the full credit for the test. Similarly while writing an essay on Second World War, we recall that the United States entered the war in 1941 after the attack on Pear Harbour, and an atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Hence, we are able to reconstruct the events that took place between these two times.

    The limitation of this method is that only such materials, which are breakable into parts, can be used for experimentation.

    The methods of testing retention i.e., recall, recognition, relearning and reconstruction are the basic units of assessing memory. But the question how information is stored in memory has encouraged the researchers in the past.

    William James distinguished memory into primary memory and secondary memory. But with the advancement of research and electronic devices, the idea of multiple memories came into light. Most researchers believe that computer memory can be used as a rough working model for understand^ human memory.

    About Short Term Memory

    For the purpose of a discussion on memory loss, short term memory is equivalent to very recent memories, usually measured in minutes-to-days. Examples of short term memory include where you parked your car this morning, what you had for lunch yesterday, and remembering details from a book that you read a few days ago.

    When people are concerned about “short term memory loss”, they are typically referring to real or perceived impairments in the ability to form new episodic and semantic memories.

    Domain Scores

    Your score on this test contributes to:

    Your verbal ability score (a lot).

    Your short-term memory score (a bit).

    That's right, perhaps surprisingly, it's more closely related to verbal ability than to memory. The contribution of each test to each performance category is based on a "factor analysis" that looked at how tests tend to clump together when measuring a massive set of data. The results were published in Neuron in 2012 (Hampshire, Highfield, Parkin, & Owen, 2012). The exact contribution of each test to each performance category may change as more data is collected.

    Short-Term Memory Test

    Read the following list only, concentrating briefly for a few seconds on each word. Then, click the Next button below the words.

    1. Remember these words:
    Vase Teapot
    Tiger Camera
    Book Ice Cream
    Cushion Spade
    Piano House
    Hat Orange

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    Psychological Testing in the Service of Disability Determination.

    Disability determination is based in part on signs and symptoms of a disease, illness, or impairment. When physical symptoms are the presenting complaint, identification of signs and symptoms of illnesses are relatively concrete and easily obtained through a general medical exam. However, documentation or concrete evidence of cognitive or functional impairments, as may be claimed by many applying for disability, 1 is more difficult to obtain.

    Psychological testing may help inform the evaluation of an individual's functional capacity, particularly within the domain of cognitive functioning. The term cognitive functioning encompasses a variety of skills and abilities, including intellectual capacity, attention and concentration, processing speed, language and communication, visual-spatial abilities, and memory. Sensorimotor and psychomotor functioning are often measured alongside neurocognitive functioning in order to clarify the brain basis of certain cognitive impairments, and are therefore considered as one of the domains that may be included within a neuropsychological or neurocognitive evaluation. These skills and abilities cannot be evaluated in any detail without formal standardized psychometric assessment.

    This chapter examines cognitive testing, which relies on measures of task performance to assess cognitive functioning and establish the severity of cognitive impairments. As discussed in detail in Chapter 2, a determination of disability requires both a medically determinable impairment and evidence of functional limitations that affect an individual's ability to work. A medically determinable impairment must be substantiated by symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings (the so-called Paragraph A criteria) and the degree of functional limitations imposed by the impairment must be assessed in four broad areas: activities of daily living social functioning concentration, persistence, or pace and episodes of decompensation (the so-called Paragraph B criteria). However, as discussed in Chapter 4, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is in the process of altering the functional domains, through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published in 2010. 2 The proposed functional domains—understand, remember, and apply information interact with others concentrate, persist, and maintain pace and manage oneself—increase focus on the relation of functioning to the work setting because of SSA's move in this direction, the committee examines the relevance of psychological testing in terms of these proposed functional domains. As will be discussed below, cognitive testing may prove beneficial to the assessment of each of these requirements.


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