Short-term memory, or working memory, is the ability to actively hold a piece of information in your brain while you are working on it. If you can store a lot of information in mind for long enough to accurately recall it when needed, your short-term memory domain score will be high.

Which Part of My Brain Controls Short-Term Memory?

Memory performance does not live in a single part of the brain. Rather, there are networks throughout your brain that are activated when you do tests that require a lot of working memory. Functional brain imaging of volunteers performing Cambridge Brain Sciences tests has revealed where these networks are:


Task-related brain activation of the reasoning domain (blue) and short-term memory domain (red), from Hampshire et al. (2012)

The red regions that control short-term memory are known as the insula/frontal operculum (IFO), the superior frontal sulcus (SFS), and the ventral portion of the anterior cingulate cortex / presupplementary motor area (ACC / preSMA). As you can see, they are distinct from the blue regions, which are the parts activated by the reasoning domain.

Does it matter which parts of your brain improve memory performance if you're not a neuroscientist? Maybe not, but it helps to know that your performance on the tests relies on physical chunks inside your skull. And just like any other physical performance, like that of your muscles, it can be measured and improved.

How is the Short-Term Memory Domain Score Calculated?

Domain scores are calculated based on more than one test, and each test may contribute to more than one domain score. Specifically, domain scores are a weighted sum of individual test scores.

The following tests contribute to the short-term memory domain:

These calculations are based on a large study with over 44,000 people that looked at how the tests relate to each other (see Hampshire et al., 2012, for more detail).

Your short-term memory domain score is in relation to the population, telling you approximately how many people scored lower than you within that domain.


  • Hampshire, A., Highfield, R. R., Parkin, B. L., & Owen, A. M. (2012). Fractionating human intelligence. Neuron, 76, 1-13. Download PDF
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