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Test of Memory Malingering

Tom N. Tombaugh, Ph.D.

Technical Information

Data were collected for a number of groups that included cognitively intact individuals and clinical samples consisting of individuals with cognitive impairment, no cognitive impairment, aphasia, traumatic brain injury, and dementia.

Normative non-clinical data were collected in two phases. In the first phase, 405 individuals ranging in age from 16 to 84 years were administered a preliminary version of the TOMM. Based on their responses, revisions were made to the TOMM. In the second phase, the current two-choice version of the TOMM was administered to an additional sample of 70 participants ranging in age from 17 to 73 years, of which sixty-three percent were males. In the clinical sample, data were obtained from 138 inpatients and outpatients, and 23 head injured subjects. The TOMM Manual presents details including group means and standard deviations for age, number of years of education, and performance results for these samples, as well as a description of the administration techniques used throughout the testing phases.

Reliability and Validity
The development and validation of the TOMM occurred over a 4-year period. The first stage was the development of the stimulus materials and an initial validation with a non-cognitively impaired sample. The next stage in the development and validation of the TOMM was to determine how sensitive the test would be with different types of cognitive impairments. This allows direct comparison between TOMM scores obtained from a person suspected of malingering and TOMM scores obtained from patients with a similar level of neurological insult or impairment but not suspected of malingering.

Comparisons of the learning and retention scores of non-cognitively impaired subjects to those of cognitively impaired subjects using the TOMM show that recognition performance was relatively unrelated to free recall measures of visual and verbal learning. This observation was supported by correlational analyses where correlation coefficients between the TOMM and other learning measures for all groups ranged from 0.20 to 0.35 across the three trials. The lack of substantial correlation between the TOMM and free recall scores is important because it demonstrates that the TOMM is relatively insensitive to measures of learning and memory dysfunction which have previously been associated with various neurological impairments. Detailed validation data are presented in the TOMM Manual.

Validity for the TOMM as a test of malingering is presented in two studies that included validation with simulated malingers and validation with patients at risk for malingering who suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI). The results of these tests suggest that the TOMM is a useful psychometric test for detecting exaggerated or deliberately faked memory impairment.
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For more information on the TOMM click here.
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About the Author

Tom N. Tombaugh, Ph.D.
Tom N. Tombaugh, Ph.D. was a Professor of Psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He served as Chairman of the Psychology Department, and was Director of Carleton's Centre for Memory Assessment and Research. He published extensively on the subject of learning and memory, initially working in the fields of neuroscience and psychopharmacology and, more recently, in clinical neuropsychology. Tom Tombaugh co-authored of the Learning and Memory Battery (LAMB), a comprehensive test for assessing learning and memory abilities.
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Tom N. Tombaugh, Ph.D.

Age Range 16 to 84 years

Administration Time 15 to 20 minutes

Administration Type
  • Individual-completed
  • Clinician-administered

Qualification Level C



TOL DX™ 2nd Ed.