short-term memory


: memory that involves recall of information for a relatively short time (such as a few seconds)
But short-term memory is the primary bottleneck in human information processing. Only a few items—the usual estimate is seven, plus or minus two—can be held in mind at once, and the items are immediately subject to fading or being overwritten.Steven Pinker
abbreviation STM
compare long-term memory, working memory

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Puzzles, along with other games, foster new brain connections, stimulate cognitive functions, help with short-term memory and improve visual-spatial reasoning. Dawn Mcmullan, Dallas News, 23 Mar. 2023 The erosion of his short-term memory, Mr. Jalone said, led to outbursts of frustrated anger. Robert Draper, New York Times, 20 Mar. 2023 Right now, brain organoids can only hold short-term memory. Doug Johnson, Ars Technica, 1 Mar. 2023 Try walking through a door to reset your short-term memory. L'oreal Thompson Payton, Fortune Well, 28 Feb. 2023 This is a great way to check if a machine can run titles like Fortnite, Roblox, Counter-Strike: Source, and Minecraft. RAM Random-access memory, or RAM, is a computer’s short-term memory. Kevin Cortez, Popular Mechanics, 24 Feb. 2023 Feinstein, 89, a trailblazing Democratic power broker, has had acute short-term memory issues for years that have raised concerns among those who interact with her., 14 Feb. 2023 Until recently, researchers relied on models like recurrent neural networks (RNNs) and long short-term memory (LSTM) to process and analyze data in time. Haomiao Huang, Ars Technica, 30 Jan. 2023 In particular, nootropics rich in amino acids may support a healthy nerve growth factor and neural communication, causing a boost in your short-term memory and recall ability. Dallas News, 24 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'short-term memory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1948, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of short-term memory was in 1948

Dictionary Entries Near short-term memory

Cite this Entry

“Short-term memory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition

short-term memory

: memory that involves recall of information for a relatively short time (as a few seconds)
The standard view, repeated in almost every psychology textbook, is that the ordinary limit on short-term memory is for seven or so bits of information—the length of a phone number.Daniel Goleman, The New York Times
Short-term memory is closely linked to working memory, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. There is a difference, however: short-term memory refers to the passive storage and recall of information from the immediate past, whereas working memory refers to the active processes involved in manipulating this information.Jonathan K. Foster, New Scientist
abbreviation STM
compare long-term memory
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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