Short- term memory or what helps us have a memory like an elephant


My very first experiment on the Thank you, Oskar!

Yogurt, bread… uh… Did you say eggs? Pf, let me make a shopping list!

We all have heard about the term short- term memory, that basic memory store that helps us transfer information to our long- term memory; or in other words, that memory store that helps us do our shopping without a shopping list.

The idea of having three different memory components was proposed by Athkinson and Shiffrin in 1968, which influenced significantly the cognitive and neuropsychology we know today. Within this model, the short- term memory takes an enormous part.

Short- term memory has its limitation and decays over time (after approximately 18 seconds). Therefore, an important distinction between short- term memory and working memory, described by Baddeley’s model (1968), should be taken in consideration.

The capacity of the short- term memory, or its memory span, is also limited. As suggested by Miller (1956), it is influenced by the magical number seven, plus or minus two, which means that it can hold approximately seven items of information plus or minus two.

Interested in these specifics, Peterson and Peterson (1959) conducted an experiment to test the duration of the short- term memory. They presented 24 psychology students with various trigrams (three- consonant syllables without a meaning, e.g.: TVG) and asked them to recall the presented stimulus.

You want to see if that was difficult? Go to

To summarize quickly, the study shows that our short- term memory has a limited duration when rehearsal is prevented, which stops the new information from being passed to other memory stores.
A suggestion for a future research would be to work with other data, words, for example, as one of the critiques of the study is that it has low ecological validity because, let’s be frank, in real life trigrams are not something that people would usually try to remember.
So if you want to pass information to your long- term memory, try to rehears the new information or organize the new material into a meaningful data, a process known as chunking. With such techniques, you can be sure that you’ll have a memory like an elephant!





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