What is the Rey-Osterrieth complex figure test?

Answer: The Rey-Osterrieth complex figure task is a neuropsychiatric test that measures visual memory, working memory, and executive planning.

rey-osterrieth complex figures task

The Rey-Osterrieth test was developed by two psychologists, André Rey and Paul-Alexandre Osterrieth in the early 1940s. It usually serves to evaluate brain injuries in patients and development in younger children. It goes by the acronym ROCFT.

There are generally three phases to the Rey-Osterrieth complex figures task.

  1. Copy. First, the subject is shown a complex figure consisting of abstract shapes and line segments. They are then asked to copy this figure onto another piece of paper using a pen or pencil. The test is not timed, but the experimenter will take note of the time required to complete this phase of the test. After completion, both the original figure and the copied hand-drawn figure are taken away from the subject.

  2. Short delay recall. A few minutes later, after completion of the first phase, the subject is given a piece of paper and a pen. They are asked to reproduce the original figure from memory. At this point, their visual memory are being tested.

  3. Long delay recall. 30 minutes following completion of the copy task, they are again given a piece of paper and a pen.

A person with an inability to create new memories (anterograde amnesia) will show deficits on the Rey-Osterrieth complex figures task. Usually, the figure has 80-100 components, and the subject earns one point for each component that is properly reproduced.