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However an apparent contradiction to this is the fact that, if an English word is worth around 10 bits and only 23 bits could be remembered then only 2-3 words could be remembered at any one time, obviously incorrect.The limiting span can better be understood in terms of the assimilation of bits into chunks.
For instance, if attention is directed away from the target stimulus during presentation there is too much information being processed to attend properly to the target stimulus.
Therefore fewer items would be remembered as they would have been replaced by information from this alternate direction.
Short-term memory is the memory for a stimulus that lasts for a short while (Carlson, 2001).
In practical terms visual short-term memory is often used for a comparative purpose when one cannot look in two places at once but wish to compare two or more possibilities.
The challenge has come from results such as those from Chen and Cowan, in which the predicted results from an experiment were that immediate serial recall of absolute numbers of singleton words would be the same as the number of chunks of learned pair words.
Memory Essay Conclusion
However in fact it was found that the same number of pre-exposed singleton words was recalled as the number of words within learned pairs - eg 8 words (presented as 8 singletons or 4 learned pairs).
Miller distinguishes between bits and chunks of information, the distinction being that a chunk is made up of multiple bits of information.
It is interesting to note that whilst there is a finite capacity to remember chunks of information, the amount of bits in each of those chunks can vary widely (Miller, 1956).
Thus the conclusions that can be drawn from Miller’s original exposition is that, whilst there is an accepted limit to the number of chunks of information that can be stored in immediate (short-term) memory, the amount of information within each of those chunks is able to be quite high, without adversely affecting the recall of the same number of chunks.
The modern view of short-term memory capacity Millers magic number 7 2 has been more recently redefined to the magic number 4 1 (Cowan, 2001).