Long-term memory is, obviously enough, intended for storage of information over a long period of time. Despite our everyday impressions of forgetting, it seems likely that long-term memory actually decays very little over time, and can store a seemingly unlimited amount of information almost indefinitely.

Short-term memory acts as a kind of “scratch-pad” for temporary recall of the information which is being processed at any point in time, and has been referred to as « the brain’s Post-it note ». It can be thought of as the ability to remember and process information at the same time.

Sensory memory or active working memory is the shortest-term element of memory. It is the ability to retain impressions of sensory information after the original stimuli have ended. It acts as a kind of buffer for stimuli received through the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, which are retained accurately, but very briefly.

  1. In the context of human memory limitations and human computer interaction, describe what is meant by the “memory bottleneck” and explain how this occurs.

A memory bottleneck refers to a memory shortage due to insufficient memory, memory leaks, defective programs or when slow memory is used in a fast processor system. A memory bottleneck affects the machine’s performance by slowing down the movement of data between the CPU and the RAM.

A memory bottleneck occurs when running applications require more memory than the available physical RAM. Operating systems such as Windows use virtual memory on the hard disk to accommodate the memory requirements for all the running applications.

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