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What Are the Different Types of Short-Term Memory Games?

By David Bishop
Updated Feb 01, 2024
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Short-term memory games are a useful way to test a person’s ability to recall recent information. Researchers have developed several theories as to the longevity and capacity of short-term memory, and several games have been designed to test these theories. A few short-term memory games have become popular in the classroom and with the general population. Some games, such as Concentration, are usually played with a deck of cards; others, such as Simon, require an electronic device or computer. Other types of memory games are played in the classroom and may involve students attempting to recall the details of a staged crime or a growing list of items.

One of the most famous short-term memory games is the classic card game Concentration. This game is usually played between two players with a standard deck of playing cards. All 52 cards are laid out in even rows, and each player takes a turn flipping two cards. If the color and number of the cards matches, then that player collects those cards and gets to take another turn. The player who matches the most cards at the end of the game is declared the winner.

Simon is another popular short-term memory game. Originally played on dedicated hardware devices, Simon can now be played as a smartphone or web application. This game involves a player or group of players trying to memorize and repeat an ever-growing sequence of colors and sounds displayed on four differently colored buttons. The maximum sequence a person can replicate is a good indicator of their short-term memory capacity.

Many lesson plans use short-term memory games to entertain and educate students about the limits of memory. The Eyewitness game can be played by elementary school children but also is used in psychology and law school classrooms to show students how difficult it is to remember details about a crime. In this game, students observe a fake crime and then attempt to answer questions about the perpetrator's appearance and actions. The students’ answers will then be compared to see how reliable they are as witnesses.

Another common classroom game is Grocery Store and involves students trying to remember a larger and larger shopping list of items. Each student must repeat a shopping list of items and add one item to the list as it goes around the room. A variant of this game is often played at the beginning of the school year to help the teacher and students learn each others' names.

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Discussion Comments
By Markerrag — On Mar 12, 2014

Short term games can also be used for "brain training" so that people will "exercise" their minds and, in theory, be able to keep mentally fit longer. This, of course, is an emerging field and the theories of using games for mental exercise are still being implemented and studies.

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