Many learning science researchers long have argued that people process information in discrete ‘chunks’ (it helps if the chunking parameter have some semantic meaning, such as the knowledge that a US area code is always three digits).
Science Daily reports on new research that suggests toddlers, like adults, prefer chunked information:
Which is easier to remember: 4432879960 or 443-297-9960? The latter, of course. Adults seem to know automatically, in fact, that long strings of numbers are more easily recalled when divided into smaller “bite-sized chunks,” which is why we break up our telephone and Social Security numbers in this way.
Now researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered that children as young as 14 months old can — and do — use the same technique to increase their working memories, indicating that “chunking” information in this way is not a learned strategy, but is, instead, a fundamental aspect of the human mind.