Short Term Memory

Memory is an ability to revive past sensory experiences, impressions, and learned ideas. Short term memory is the capacity of holding a small amount of information in mind for a short period of time. Short term memory is the information we are currently thinking about or aware of. Short term memory retains information for about 15-30 seconds and usually last for not more than 1 minute. Duration of short term memory can be increased by a rehearsal, active maintenance or chunking.

Short-term memory has three key aspects:

  • Limited capacity- approximately just 7 +/- 2 items can be stored at a time
  • Limited capacity- approximately just 7 +/- 2 items can be stored at a time
  • Encoding- mainly acoustically

There are two types of short-term memory:

Auditory/ verbal memory: Auditory memory is the ability to take in the information that is presented orally, process it, retain it in the brain and then recall it. The retention of auditory information to allow time for comprehension and for word recognition is referred as “short-term auditory memory” (STAM).

STAM may show up in judgement and understanding of such things as

• Following instructions
• Concentration or attention
• Organizational ability
• Daydreaming, vagueness
• Information processing

The capacity of STAM does increase with age. However, delay in development of STAM skills can result in the children, experiencing many difficulties such as:

• Learning and development of new knowledge
• Following instructions
• Remembering telephone numbers, multiplication tables, information from messages
• Narrative organization, telling a story in logical order
• Slow writing – dictation
• Recalling details in reading
• Word finding in written or spoken language
• Social interactions /functioning

Visual-spatial memory (visual and spatial short term memory)

It is a memory system that stores, visual and spatial information for a few seconds so that it can be used to complete ongoing tasks. VSTM representations play an important role in maintaining continuity across the interruptions like eye blinks, eye movements and other visual interruptions. VSTM representations are more abstract, longer, and more durable as compared with ionic memory representations. Visual-spatial memory is a process that enables a person to remember different locations, things, as well as spatial relations between different objects. Visual-spatial memories are said to form when a person has already gathered and processed sensory information about his/her environment. This memory allows someone to navigate through familiar city and complete ongoing tasks.