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The second cognitive limitation Miller discusses is memory span.Memory span refers to the longest list of items (e.g., digits, letters, words) that a person can repeat back in correct order on 50% of trials immediately after presentation.
The task can be described as one of information transmission: The input consists of one out of n possible stimuli, and the output consists of one out of n responses.
However, the limit of short-term memory cannot easily be characterized as a constant "magic spell" either, because memory span depends also on other factors besides speaking duration.
For instance, span depends on the lexical status of the contents (i.e., whether the contents are words known to the person or not).
The number of chunks a human can recall immediately after presentation depends on the category of chunks used (e.g., span is around seven for digits, around six for letters, and around five for words), and even on features of the chunks within a category.
Chunking is used by the brain’s short-term memory as a method for keeping groups of information accessible for easy recall.
It functions and works best as labels that one is already familiar with—the incorporation of new information into a label that is already well rehearsed into one’s long-term memory.