The short-term memory/long-term memory distinction
If there is a difference between short- and long-term memory stores, there are two possible ways in which these stores may differ: in duration, and in capacity. A duration difference means that items in short-term storage decay from this sort of storage as a function of time. A capacity difference means that there is a limit in how many items short-term storage can hold. If there is only a limit in capacity, a number of items smaller than the capacity limit could remain in short-term storage until they are replaced by other items. Both types of limit are controversial. Therefore, in order to assess the usefulness of the short-term storage concept, duration and capacity limits will be assessed in turn.
Short-term memory is used to remember a number looked up in a telephone book.
Students who cram for a test retain the information in their short-term memory.
Important life moments, such as the birth of a child, are stored in a person's long-term memory.
Looking through old photos will likely trigger long-term memories.
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Short-term and long-term memory, while closely related, have many differences. Long-term memory is used to store information, memories, skill sets and procedural knowledge that can be readily retrieved when needed, both voluntarily and involuntarily. Short-term memory is designed to retain information for a brief period of time, after which it is then either forgotten or stored permanently in long-term memory, based on how actively it is used while in short-term memory.
One difference between these two types of memory is that information stays in short-term memory for only a very short period, while it is retained in long-term memory on a relatively permanent basis. People who cram for a test or exam may find that they can easily remember the information if they have studied it right before the test, but they may find that it has mostly disappeared a few days later. At a...