Research: Short-Term Memory and Long-Term Memory

Topics: Short-term memory, Long-term memory, Working memory Pages: 3 (846 words) Published: October 10, 2013
Outline and evaluate research into STM and LTM.

Short term memory (STM) is memory for immediate events. STMs last for a very short time and disappear unless they are rehearsed. The STM store has a limited duration and limited capacity. This type of memory is sometimes referred to as working memory because it is used in comprehending languages, solving problems, and so on. It is related to long-term memory in several fundamental ways, as we will discover. Long-term memory (LTM) is memory for events that have happened in the past. This lasts anywhere from 2 minutes to a 100 years. The LTM store has potentially unlimited duration and capacity. Memory can also be stored through encoding: STM- acoustically, LTM- semantically.

The capacity of STM can be assessed by using digit span, a technique used in the nineteenth century, in the early days of psychology. Jacobs, used this technique to assess the capacity of STM. He found the average span for the digits was 9.3 items, while it was 7.3 for letters. Jacobs suggested it was easier to recall digits because it may be because there are only 9 digits whereas there are 26 letters. Miller wrote a memorable article called the magic number seven plus or minus two. He reviewed psychological research and concluded that the span of immediate memory is 7; people can cope reasonably well with counting seven dots flashed onto a screen but not many more than this. Miller also found that people can recall 5 words as well as they can recall 5 letters- we chunk things together and can remember more. The capacity of LTM is not scientifically possible to measure.

One key difference between the concepts of STM and LTM is duration. Duration refers to how long a memory lasts before it is no longer available. Peterson and Peterson conducted a landmark study of the duration of the STM. The experimenter said a consonant syllable followed by a three digit number (e.g. WRT 303). The consonant syllable was selected to have no meaning...
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