We’ve all done it. You meet someone and within seconds you forget their name. There you are starring at them thinking “Oh my God, I did NOT just forget their name. They JUST told me their name. How could I forget?”
The problem is we did not store it in our short term memory. Once it’s in our short term memory, we can move it to our long term memory, also known as Active Memory. The amount of information that can be stored in short-term memory can vary. An often cited figure is plus or minus seven items, based on the results of a famous experiment on short-term memory (wonder why phone numbers have seven digits or why license plates have typically have seven digits) . In an influential paper titled “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two,” psychologist George Miller suggested that people can store between five and nine items in short-term memory. More recent research suggests that people are capable of storing approximately four chunks or pieces of information in short-term memory.