Short-term memory can hold a limited amount of information. The results of a typical memory span experiment reveal that a ‘typical’ short-term memory can hold about 6 items (5 to 9 is the normal range). The results also suggest that short-term memory is verbal in nature; when the items are letters that sound alike (sound-alike condition) they are harder to recall than when the letters don’t sound alike (random letter condition) because when letters sound alike they are confused in memory. Other evidence that short-term memory is verbal comes from the fact that memory span is smaller for longer words than for shorter words. This length of item effect has led researchers to hypothesize that information in short-term memory is stored in chunks and that syllables each represent one chunk of information. Because longer words have more syllables, and thus more chunks, fewer can be retained.

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