Short-term memory, also known as working memory, refers to the temporary storage and manipulation of information that is needed to complete immediate tasks. It is the cognitive process responsible for holding a small amount of information in a readily available state for a short period of time.


  • Limited Capacity: Short-term memory has a limited capacity, which means it can only hold a small amount of information at a given time.
  • Temporary Nature: Information in short-term memory is transient and typically lasts for a duration of a few seconds to a minute before it decays or is forgotten.
  • Active Processing: Short-term memory is actively involved in the processing and manipulation of information, allowing for mental operations such as reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making.
  • Susceptibility to Interference: Short-term memory is highly susceptible to interference from both internal and external factors, such as distractions, other cognitive tasks, and time constraints.


Short-term memory plays a crucial role in various cognitive processes, including:

  1. Immediate Recall: It allows for the immediate recall of recently encountered information, enabling individuals to hold and use information in their mind temporarily.
  2. Attention Control: Short-term memory aids in maintaining and manipulating relevant information while filtering out irrelevant distractions, enhancing attention control.
  3. Language Processing: It assists in the comprehension and production of language by holding words, phrases, and sentences in memory while constructing and understanding their meaning.
  4. Problem-Solving: Short-term memory is involved in complex cognitive processes, such as problem-solving and critical thinking, by holding and manipulating relevant information to arrive at a solution.
  5. Learning: It facilitates the initial encoding and consolidation of new information, serving as a bridge between sensory input and long-term memory.