Health Care

Short Term Memory and Long Term Memory in a nutshell6 min read


 What is The Short Term Memory?

The short term memory is the part of the memory system where the stored information is roughly stored for 30 seconds.

The information could be stored for a longer time by techniques such as rehearsal, to keep a certain information for a longer time.

In other words it must be converted into a long term memory where it can be retrieved.

The capacity of the short term memory is very limited, it is roughly storing a 7 items of information plus or minus 2.

Now, it is just a coincidence that phone numbers only have seven numbers!!

When a certain person experience a short term memory he or she remember things that happened 20 before and just cannot remember incidents that happened 20 minutes before!!

Short term memory could happen because of many things, it is either because of a medical condition or because of injuries and influences from the outside, according to the National Institute of Health.


Causes of the Short Term Memory Loss

According to the National Institute of Health, there are many things like;

  • “incidents” or diseases that cause the short term memory loss.
  • A brain tumor that affect memory.
  • Cancer Treatment.
  • Head Trauma.
  • Brain stroke that may bring short term memory loss.
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain.
  • Alcohol and drugs.
  • Medical conditions such as seizures, epilepsy, depression.
  • People who have witnessed a traumatic events like a crime or an accident also affect.


What is the distinction between short term memory and long term memory?

Short term memory is the information that you are currently thinking about or in aware of in your mind and consciousness, it is also called “The Active Memory”.

Over 30 seconds or maximum a several days, the short term memory often encompasses the events that happens, because the ability of the brain to store the short items is limited.

Now according to “Memory Loss & the brain“, a new letter from the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University, the short term memory can store from five to nearly nine items around. A new information pup into the mind to the short term memory.

On the other hand, long term memory has much a greater capacity than the short one.

It can contains things like personal memories and the childhood life.

Important information is gradually transferred from short term memory into long term memory.

when more information is repeated or used regularly, the more eventually it is going to be stored in the long term memory.


Test for short term memory loss

When testing for any memory loss, the doctor will make a memory history and ask many questions.

It is about checking the patient’s mental status and his ability to think and how he thinks and the doctor will order a blood test to check for various conditions and diseases.

Now, depending on the results, other tests will be included maybe an MRI and CT scan for the brain, plus an EEG measure to the electrical activity in the brain, also a blood flow to the brain could be required.

After that, if the cause of short term memory is caused by a psychological trauma, a therapist will consider the situation and psychological treatment could takes place.

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