Fundamentally memory exists as two components: long-term memory and short-term / working memory.
- The former stores information over long periods of time and is infinite, but has a long retrieval time. Here episodic memory enables humans to associate the solutions of previous problems with current problems. Routine tasks such as procedures and rules will also be learned here.
- Short-term/working memory is finite, but has faster processing times than long-term memory. This is fuelled from the senses and/or long-term memory for temporary demands on memory, i.e. less than one minute. Computing interfaces make heavy use of temporary information, and as such overburden or overload is easily achieved.
Chunking is employed by the brain to combat overburden. Here information is grouped together so that it forms a single item to be recalled. Miller coined this in 1958 as the "magical 7 + 2." It would not be advisable to present the user with more items than this to remember at any given instance, lest overburden the one piece of PC hardware that can�t be upgraded - the player.