Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Long-term memory span

James S. Nairne a1 and Ian Neath a1
a1 Department of Psychology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1364


Cowan assumes that chunk-based capacity limits are synonymous with the essence of a “specialized STM mechanism.” In a single experiment, we measured the capacity, or span, of long-term memory and found that it, too, corresponds roughly to the magical number 4. The results imply that a chunk-based capacity limit is not a signature characteristic of remembering over the short-term.