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Short-term memory

Short-term memory (STM) is a temporary storage system that processes incoming sensory memory; sometimes it is called working memory. Short-term memory takes information from sensory memory and sometimes connects that memory to something already in long-term memory. Short-term memory storage lasts about 20 seconds. George Miller (1956), in his research on the capacity of memory, found that most people can retain about 7 items in STM. Some remember 5, some 9, so he called the capacity of STM 7 plus or minus 2.

Think of short-term memory as the information you have displayed on your computer screen—a document, a spreadsheet, or a web page. Then, information in short-term memory goes to long-term memory (you save it to your hard drive), or it is discarded (you delete a document or close a web browser). This step of rehearsal    , the conscious repetition of information to be remembered, to move STM into long-term memory is called memory consolidation    .

You may find yourself asking, “How much information can our memory handle at once?” To explore the capacity and duration of your short-term memory, have a partner read the strings of random numbers ( [link] ) out loud to you, beginning each string by saying, “Ready?” and ending each by saying, “Recall,” at which point you should try to write down the string of numbers from memory.

A series of numbers includes two rows, with six numbers in each row.  From left to right, the numbers increase from four digits to five, six, seven, eight, and nine digits.  The first row includes “9754,” “68259,” “913825,” “5316842,” “86951372,” and “719384273,” and the second row includes “6419,” “67148,” “648327,” “5963827,” “51739826,” and “163875942.”
Work through this series of numbers using the recall exercise explained above to determine the longest string of digits that you can store.

Note the longest string at which you got the series correct. For most people, this will be close to 7, Miller’s famous 7 plus or minus 2. Recall is somewhat better for random numbers than for random letters (Jacobs, 1887), and also often slightly better for information we hear (acoustic encoding) rather than see (visual encoding) (Anderson, 1969).

Long-term memory

Long-term memory (LTM) is the continuous storage of information. Unlike short-term memory, the storage capacity of LTM has no limits. It encompasses all the things you can remember that happened more than just a few minutes ago to all of the things that you can remember that happened days, weeks, and years ago. In keeping with the computer analogy, the information in your LTM would be like the information you have saved on the hard drive. It isn’t there on your desktop (your short-term memory), but you can pull up this information when you want it, at least most of the time. Not all long-term memories are strong memories. Some memories can only be recalled through prompts. For example, you might easily recall a fact— “What is the capital of the United States?”—or a procedure—“How do you ride a bike?”—but you might struggle to recall the name of the restaurant you had dinner when you were on vacation in France last summer. A prompt, such as that the restaurant was named after its owner, who spoke to you about your shared interest in soccer, may help you recall the name of the restaurant.

Long-term memory is divided into two types: explicit and implicit ( [link] ). Understanding the different types is important because a person’s age or particular types of brain trauma or disorders can leave certain types of LTM intact while having disastrous consequences for other types. Explicit memories are those we consciously try to remember and recall. For example, if you are studying for your chemistry exam, the material you are learning will be part of your explicit memory. (Note: Sometimes, but not always, the terms explicit memory and declarative memory are used interchangeably.)

Questions & Answers

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Josh Reply
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Winson
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Farzan
What is environmental psychology
rohini Reply
Environmental psychology focuses on the interplay between an individual and it's surroundings.
Liviu
what is criminal psychology
Wasana Reply
Criminal psychology, also referred to as criminological psychology, is the study of the wills, thoughts, intentions, and reactions of criminals and all that partakes in the criminal behavior. It is related to the field of criminal anthropology
Me
My Master degree is in Forensic Psychology. It is a science that is half psychology and half criminal justice
Mike
what is environmental psychology?
Doper Reply
if Someone can recommend any Practicing Psychologist Regards
Sajjad Reply
How do you communicated with someone who has a Narcissistic personality, and a womanizer? How do you get them to value your feelings and thoughts
Mrs. Reply
having a narcissistic-person as a partner in life can destroy your relationship especially if they're abusing you mentally.
Bonito
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Mahmoud Reply
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Mahmoud
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Aliza Reply
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Kody Reply
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William Reply
Are you smarter than your teachers? I was. So, I found better ones. Like you are, William.
Candice
You don't have to be smarter than your teachers, at the end they teach what they been told, education system must change and give you the chance to learn things of your interest.
Ivan
William James, principles of psychology, 1890
Cristina Reply
is there any phyical harm or internal harm to the brains
Megharaj Reply
it depends since an accient or trauma can cause amnesia, etc...
nandini
I should choose psychology major because....?
Alexsus Reply
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Captain
psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processing and how they are affected by an organism's physical state,mental state and environment
Macmel
or psychology is a science because it follows the scientific process in studying behaviiur and mental processing .behaviour include overt and covert ones ,mental processing include thought,emotion,perception ,reasoning processes ,memories and biological activities .
Macmel
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Macmel
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Macmel
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Macmel
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Edi Reply
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Abdulaziz Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Psychology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11629/1.5
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