In your introductory psychology class you learned that Short-Term Memory (STM) has a limited capacity, about 7 items, and a limited duration, about 30 seconds. Because of its limited capacity, STM is the bottleneck in the memory system. If we can only hold about 7 items at a time in STM, then there are limits on how much information we can transfer to Long-Term Memory.
To begin the demonstration Click Here
To demonstrate the limits of STM, look at the letters printed below for about 10
seconds and then look away and try to write them down without looking at the screen.
Could you write down all the letters? Probably not, because the 14 letters exceeded the capacity of your STM.
To continue Click Here.
Fourteen letters is difficult for most people to store in their STM. But you can use a
technique called chunking to increase the capacity of STM. Instead of trying to
remember 14 letters you must first chunk the letters into larger units. Click
Here to see an example of chunking for the list of 14 letters.
X IBM SAT MTV PHD X
If you chunk the 14 letters into 6 chunks as shown above, it is easy to keep all the
letters in STM. The key is to actively chunk letters, words, sentences, or numbers such
that there are 7 or less chunks. If you use an active imagination, you can chunk anything.
But chunking takes work, and to get good at chunking it takes practice. Click Here to practice chunking on your own.
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