Why does repetition help us remember a phone number long enough to make a call?
—Emily Harrison, Nashville, Tenn. Memory is a complicated subject. But in general, short-term memory can hold about seven to 10 items and lasts between 15 to 30 seconds. (Both limits vary from person to person.) So if we are able to repeat a sequence within that period, we can effectively reset the time clock. And we can do that again and again. But if something interrupts us for more than a few seconds, and our time clock runs out—poof! The memory is gone. We need to look at the phone number and start all over again.
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