Perhaps you’re visualizing each veggie, nut, and protein being tossed into a bowl until it looks delicious in your mind, or maybe you’re repeating ingredients in your head until they sound like a satisfying combo. Either way, your working memory is helping you hold that growing list of ingredients as you’re taking in the menu so you can mentally assemble the perfect salad.
After you take in sensory information (in this case, that big list of yummy salad ingredients), working memory helps you temporarily hold that information and decide what to do with it (i.e., put it in long-term memory or let it go once it’s no longer needed). While our long-term memory storage space is infinite (totally cool, right?) researchers estimate our brains can remember approximately five to nine things at once (though it varies from person to person).