Subjects were required to listen to messages consisting of 1, 2, 3, or 4 letters of the alphabet over each of 1, 2, 3, or 4 channels. It was found that increasing the number of channels above 2 had a markedly deleterious effect upon recall of the messages, 2 letters over each of four channels being less well recalled than 4 letters over each of two channels. In a second experiment, it was found that, providing only one channel was required in recall, and this one was indicated by a light immediately after the stimuli had been presented, then the decrement could be largely offset and the total number of signals stored held constant at about 8 regardless of how many channels were used. However, if the letters had to be recalled in exactly the correct order in which they arrived, performance dropped to almost zero. The results are discussed in terms of the channel capacity of the nervous system and in relation to corresponding findings in other sense modalities.

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