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Short-Term and Long-Term Memory

Short-Term and Long-Term Memory

Short-Term and Long-Term Memory

Short-term memory is a type of memory in which information considered to have meaning is stored for a limited period (Feldman, 2018). On the other hand, long-term memory is the type of memory that stores information for a prolonged period. The two memory types’ capacity and duration are the major dissimilarities (Cowan, 2019). A duration difference implies a limit to the number of items stored in the brain. Short-term memory is normally limited by decay with time, which means that if the information is not rehearsed, it can easily be lost from short-term memory (Cowan, 2019).

Further, Feldman (2018) claims that data stored in short-term memory can be lost within 15 to 25 seconds, except if this information has been transmitted into long-term memory. Rehearsal helps maintain data in the short-term memory, which is easily transferred into the long-term memory. On the other hand, long-term memory acts as a hard drive in which information is filed and coded for a long period, enabling individuals to retrieve it whenever they need it (Feldman, 2018). The evidence showing long-term memory as different from short-term memory arises from various sources. For instance, individuals with a particular type of brain damage have been found to have no long-lasting recall of any new-fangled information received once the damage has occurred, even though events and individuals stored in memory before the injury stay intact (Feldman, 2018).

Another difference is that short-term memory has a small capacity of about seven items or chunks of information, which can have a variation of minus or plus 2 (Feldman, 2018). This is based on list recall, numerical estimation, and absolute judgment experiments. Some studies even claim that the capacity limit ranges from 3 to 4 units (Cowan, 2019).On the other hand, any material that proceeds to the long-term memory from the short-term memory penetrates a storehouse of unlimited capacity (Feldman, 2018). This means that, unlike short-term memory, long-term memory has an almost limitless capacity to store information.

Short-term memory is typically conceptualized in terms of working memory (a memory system that can hold information temporarily while at the same time actively rehearsing and manipulating the information. On the other hand, long-term memory is conceptualized in terms of various memory modules such as procedural or implicit memory; memory for habits and skills like how to ride a bike, and declarative or explicit memory; memory for factual information like dates, names, and faces (Feldman, 2018).


Cowan, N. (2019). What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory? Progress in brain research, 169, 323-338.

Feldman, R. (2018). Essentials of Understanding Psychology. McGraw-Hill Education.


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Short-Term and Long-Term Memory

Short-Term and Long-Term Memory

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Describe the difference between short-term memory and long-term memory.

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