VSL:SCIENCE // Take an online memory test

Healthy adults can hold about seven unrelated words in mind. But our short-term memory’s good for only two or three images. Push the limits of your own memory with this online test — part of a study by the Harvard Cognition and Language Lab.

You’ll have a second to look at four simple shapes, which will then be replaced by a fifth. Is the new shape the same as the one that was in that spot before? It sounds easy, but it isn’t: A perfect score is 4; the average 25-year-old scores 2.5; our VSL volunteer scored 2.2. Why are we better at verbal and conceptual tasks than at visual ones? Scientists aren’t quite sure, but the Harvard study is designed to answer that very question. So help out — give it a go — and let us know if your score leaves ours in the dust!

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