What is short-term memory?
Short-term memory is the type of memory you need to accomplish your immediate goals, explains Dr Patrick Lyden, chair of the department of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. That may be working your way through tasks during the workday, remembering someone’s name, email, or phone number, or recalling where you tossed your keys when you got home.
Where is it located in the brain?
When someone rattles off their phone number, you file it away in brain circuits that include the hippocampus (your memory centre) and the amygdala (your emotional hub). Depending on how important the short-term memory item may be (your address, someone you call all the time), it can be converted into long-term memory, says Dr Lyden.
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How does short-term memory work?
Short-term memory isn’t just about being able to quickly recall new info; there are three phases. “You have to register the information, store the information, and retrieve the information,” says Dr Lyden. Registering means that you’re paying attention in the first place. Storing the info means you’ve filed it away in your brain. Retrieval is the ability to access the memory again. Any of these steps can break down, he says.