The Cambridge Brain Sciences website has changed. If you're looking for the previous version, visit Take me to

Tests > Spatial Planning

Spatial Planning

Planning is a fundamental property of intelligent behaviour. Spatial Planning tests the patient’s ability to act with forethought and sequence behaviour in an orderly fashion to reach specific goals.

Get started for free

How to take the Spatial Planning Test

A tree-shaped frame appears on the screen with 9 numbered balls slotted onto the branches. The patient must rearrange the balls so that they are slotted onto the branches in numerical order, in as few moves as possible. Puzzles get more difficult as the patient gets correct answers.

The history of Spatial Planning

Spatial Planning is a modern update to the Tower of London / Tower of Hanoi test, which has been used to assess planning ability since the 1970s, often with physical pegs and beads. The computerized version of the task has been used to study how the brain activates during planning, finding that the frontal cortex plays a central role—however, it does not act alone, as there is a complex interaction with other brain structures when engaging in complex planning tasks. Perhaps more than any other test, the exact skills used in spatial planning apply to many real-world situations.

Spatial Planning in
the real world

Any task similar to Spatial Planning will rely on the same parts of the brain—fitting furniture into a car, then assembling it later, require reasoning and planning ahead. Lifestyle can affect how well patients do; even a single bout of aerobic exercise can provide a quick boost to performance for some people. On the other hand, failing to get enough sleep can hurt performance. In one study, sleep-deprived participants took almost 30 seconds longer to the time needed to perform a planning task.

Speak to us about using Spatial Planning in your practice or study