Some people easily remember the name of their first grade teacher from 50 years ago — then they walk into a room and forget why they're there. This helps illustrate the difference between short-term memory and long-term memory.
Here are five key differences between short-term and long-term memory loss:
Short-term memory has a fairly limited capacity and can hold items for only short periods of time while long-term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely. The more that short-term memory information is used or repeated, the more likely it is to become part of the long-term memory.
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People must relearn items constantly to keep them in the short-term memory but the long-term memory is rather passive in nature and is not easily disturbed by interruption, according to Preserve Article.
Short-term memory and long-term memory differ in the way forgetting occurs. According to Preserve Article, short-term memory is characterized by trace dependent forgetting — meaning that if information is not rehearsed or processed immediately, then the memory transformed by the information fades rapidly and the item is permanently lost. In contrast, long-term memory is characterized by cue dependent forgetting — meaning the information is permanently recorded but our ability to retrieve it depends upon having the appropriate cues.
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Short-term memory and long-term memory are handled by different parts of the brain. Short-term memory is primarily a function of the frontal lobe of the cerebral context. In contrast, information stored in long-term memory is first held in the hippocampus and then transferred to the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in language and perception for permanent storage, according to Livescience.
Long-term memory and short-term memory differ in the kind of information that is most easily stored. Information is usually stored in short-term memory in terms of the physical qualities of the experience — such as what we see, do, taste, touch or hear. In long-term memory, information is primarily stored in terms of its meaning or semantic codes.
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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