Is "Muscle Memory" real?

Oct 2013
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USA
#51
I should add they did a study with runners and had them take 6 to 8 months off. They then ran and their stride and speed came back automatically as if they never stopped running and they beat another test group. The conclusion was that athletes repeated running stores the created path in their brain causing that path to kick in automatically when they start to run even after taking a long time off. None of that 'use it or lose it' applied apparently.
 

Babba

Former Staff
Jul 2007
75,310
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So. Md.
#52
I think a lot of we do that our fingers or other limbs do is at least partly muscle memory. Anything you do that doesn't require conscious thought, like breathing or walking or laughing or looking at stuff all day is at least partly muscle memory. I don't think it's ALL dependent on the brain.
 
Likes: MaryAnne
Jun 2014
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United States
#53
I think a lot of we do that our fingers or other limbs do is at least partly muscle memory. Anything you do that doesn't require conscious thought, like breathing or walking or laughing or looking at stuff all day is at least partly muscle memory. I don't think it's ALL dependent on the brain.
Being a programmer, I think of it as subroutines that run in the background as your conscious mind attends to foreground tasks.

That said, the brain is not isolated from the other organs to which it is connected. Our guts probably affect our mood about as much as our brains do.
 
Last edited:
Apr 2012
58,983
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Englewood,Ohio
#54
Being a programmer, I think of it as subroutines that run in the background as your conscious mind attends to foreground tasks.

That said, the brain is not isolated from the other organs to which it is connected. Our guts probably affect our mood about as much as our brains do.
My gut tells me something when I listen to certain people. It says, “Change channel!”
 

Blueneck

Former Staff
Jun 2007
54,328
41,129
Ohio
#57
How would you explain/define it?
I've always called it "automatic pilot". Noticed it when worked in manufacturing. Spent a lot of time loading and unloading machines for short cycles (sometimes operated 2 at a time) and what I noticed is sometimes I would load the machine and when I went to tighten the vise, I'd find myself just stopping for no particular reason. Then I'd check my set up and realize there was an aluminum chip stuck in there. Just the minute amount of difference in how the vise felt signaled my brain that there was a problem without me ever being consciously aware of it.

Ever since then, I have always made a point to do repetitive things in the same way every time so as to "program" my inner warning system, which often works better than my actual brain when paying attention and to always listen to that vague notion that "something's off here".

Not sure if it's related, but I find if I play solitaire on the computer or do some kind of mindless with my hands (crochet, painting widgets) when listening to a boring seminar or round table discussion on CSPAN, I absorb the information better. If I just sit there watching it, my mind wanders and I retain nothing.
 

Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
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Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
#58
... I have always made a point to do repetitive things in the same way every time so as to "program" my inner warning system, which often works better than my actual brain when paying attention and to always listen to that vague notion that "something's off here".
I do that with pretty much everything that is routine, even to the point of putting things in the same place in the same way.* Such "programming" also makes for easier and faster performance of routine and/or mundane tasks, which is especially helpful in getting out the door in the morning with Shadowfax (after medicating the cat).

* I rent a room out to someone who is a complete scatterbrain who is incapable of leaving something the way he found it (or putting anything away, or even finishing tasks), so I can always tell when he has moved something.
 

StanStill

Former Staff
Dec 2013
12,783
14,289
Work
#59
I've always called it "automatic pilot". Noticed it when worked in manufacturing. Spent a lot of time loading and unloading machines for short cycles (sometimes operated 2 at a time) and what I noticed is sometimes I would load the machine and when I went to tighten the vise, I'd find myself just stopping for no particular reason. Then I'd check my set up and realize there was an aluminum chip stuck in there. Just the minute amount of difference in how the vise felt signaled my brain that there was a problem without me ever being consciously aware of it.

Ever since then, I have always made a point to do repetitive things in the same way every time so as to "program" my inner warning system, which often works better than my actual brain when paying attention and to always listen to that vague notion that "something's off here".

Not sure if it's related, but I find if I play solitaire on the computer or do some kind of mindless with my hands (crochet, painting widgets) when listening to a boring seminar or round table discussion on CSPAN, I absorb the information better. If I just sit there watching it, my mind wanders and I retain nothing.
Because your mind had formed a "gestalt" about the process of setting up the machine. The whole process had become something other than a list of operations you had to perform, so that eventually your mind could detect minute differences in anything that went on during the process. I think that's a lot of what muscle memory is... becoming proficient enough that your mind no longer sees the individual steps, but instead just classifies the whole procedure as one thing. Of course the mind does this with lots of things.

Gestalt psychology

I like to snowboard. I used to get to the top of the mountain and think "Ok, I'm going to start slowly...okay I should speed up here.... now I find the edge and begin to turn...now I'll avoid those bumpy parts..." etc. Now I just get off the lift and think "Ok, let's go". Anyone who has snowboarded for a while knows that if you can't get past the stage where you are consciously making decisions while in motion, you're going to fall a lot. Initially that's expected, and probably helpful. Eventually, the whole collection of possible scenarios just has to become so familiar that your legs know what to do without any deciding happening. You just feel it.
 

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