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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.Miller concluded that memory span is not limited in terms of bits but rather in terms of chunks.
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.
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.
A similar feat was informally observed by neuropsychologist Oliver Sacks and reported in his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
Therefore, one might suppose that this limit is an arbitrary limit imposed by our cognition rather than necessarily being a physical limit.
Therefore, there is nothing "magical" about the number seven, and Miller used the expression only rhetorically.