Tower of London

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The Tower of London is a planning test based on the Tower of Hanoi , which was further developed in 1982 by neurologist Tim Shallice . During his task, balls of different colors have to be repositioned on rods of different lengths in order to get from a starting position to a goal with as few moves as possible. Rules must be observed (e.g. only one ball at a time). Neuropsychological studies have shown that this task is a good test for measuring planning ability (e.g. Culbertson 1998).


In the past 20 years, the executive functions in clinical neuropsychology have received increasing attention. Despite the existing problems of describing the executive functions exactly, it can be stated unanimously that the planning ability can be assigned to the executive functions. The ability to plan can be subdivided into the ability to create plans on the one hand and the ability to implement a plan with a view to achieving a goal on the other hand, i.e. to be able to implement the planning in a targeted action (Funke & Fritz 1999).

With the increasing importance and attention of executive functions, the question of suitable test procedures for this area also arose. The planning test should help fill this gap and provide a standardized neuropsychological test for checking planning ability.

Neuropsychological studies have shown that when this task is solved, precisely those areas of the brain are active that are believed to have executive functions there (Owen et al. 1990, Dagher et al. 1999, Baker et al. 1996). A central requirement for the diagnostics of the executive functions is the novelty of the task so that the test performance can be clearly differentiated from what has already been learned. In order to achieve this, new tasks must be generated again and again when carrying out the test, for which there is no learning effect from the previous tasks. In addition, features were identified that influence the degree of difficulty of the task (the length of the solution path, i.e. the number of moves from start to finish, explains only 41 percent of the variance, see also Röhrenbach 1989).

The test consists of two parallel forms of equal severity, so that progress measurements are also possible (e.g. to prove that therapy has been carried out successfully).


  • SC Baker, RD Rogers, Adrian M. Owen, CD Frith, RJ Dolan, RSJ Frackowiak, Trevor W. Robbins: Neural systems engaged by planning: a PET study of the Tower of London task . In: Neuropsychologia . tape 34 , no. 6 . Elsevier Science, June 1996, ISSN  0028-3932 , pp. 515-526 , doi : 10.1016 / 0028-3932 (95) 00133-6 .
  • William C. Culbertson, Eric A. Zillmer: The Construct Validity of The Tower of London DX As a Measure of The Executive Functioning of ADHD Children . In: R. Michael Bagby (Ed.): Assessment . tape 5 , no. 3 . HighWire Press, September 1998, ISSN  1073-1911 , pp. 215-226 , doi : 10.1177 / 107319119800500302 .
  • Alain Dagher, Adrian M. Owen, Henning Boecker, David J. Brooks: Mapping the network for planning: a correlational PET activation study with the Tower of London task . In: Alastair Compston (ed.): Brain . tape 122 , no. 10 . Oxford University Press, October 1999, ISSN  0006-8950 , pp. 1973–1987 , doi : 10.1093 / brain / 122.10.1973 .
  • Joachim Funke , Annemarie Fritz: on planning, problem solving, and acting . In: J. Funke, A. Fritz (Ed.): New concepts and instruments for planning diagnostics . Deutscher Psychologen Verlag, Bonn 1995, ISBN 3-925559-90-6 , p. 1-45 .
  • Adrian M. Owen, John J. Downes, Barbara J. Sahakian, Charles E. Polkey, Trevor W. Robbins: Planning and spatial working memory following frontal lobe lesions in man . In: Neuropsychologia . tape 28 , no. 10 . Elsevier Science, 1990, ISSN  0028-3932 , pp. 1021-1034 , doi : 10.1016 / 0028-3932 (90) 90137-D .
  • Hans Förstl (Ed.): Frontalhirn . Functions and diseases . 2., rework. and exp. Edition. Springer, Heidelberg 2005, ISBN 3-540-20485-7 , doi : 10.1007 / b138170 .
  • C. Röhrenbach: The Tower of London as a method for testing prefrontal functions . University of Konstanz, 1989 (unpublished diploma thesis).
  • Tim Shallice: Specific impairment of planning . In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences . tape 298 , 1982, ISSN  0080-4622 , pp. 199-209 .