What Is Short-Term Memory?


Quick Answer

Short-term memory consists of information that a person is currently paying attention to, and is often the information gathered by using the five senses. In most cases, individuals can store this information and recall it for about 30 seconds. However, paying careful attention to this information can allow an individual to transfer it from short-term memory to long-term memory.

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Full Answer

An average individual can hold between five and nine pieces of information in short-term memory at any given time. This number is also referred to as seven plus or minus two, meaning that the baseline number of facts is seven, but some individuals are able to store slightly more or less. This concept was suggested by psychologist George Miller.

Individuals may be able to slightly increase the amount of information they can store in short-term memory by using mnemonics, rhymes or songs to help convert the information to long-term memory storage. However, an individual who struggles with short-term memory impairment may find that it's best to simply convert this information into a personal note, a journal or an entry in a phone or electronic organizer, so that he can focus more on the task he is currently working on and devote less information to simple recollection.

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