Saturday, September 27, 2008

[motor memory] when it fails to serve


Once, in the time when I ran two cars, my friend and I went for pizzas with me taking my custom car and nosing it into a car spot near the pizza shop. We did the business, came back to the car, I went to put the car into reverse to pull out and it wouldn't go in.

Damn. He watched as I struggled to get the gear lever in but every time it went into first gear. Hell. This was going to mean pushing the little bus backwards - it was a light car but not that light.

Then he said that he wasn't sure but why was I pressing down, left and forward when he was sure I had pressed down, right and back earlier? Redfaced, I followed his suggestion, went easily into reverse and we went back to eat the pizzas.

Reason for the blockage? Down, left and forward was the way I put my other car into gear.

Muscle/motor memory

Have you wondered, when you play squash or badminton, how such a small racket head on a long stick can possibly move at an angle to the curving ball/shuttlecock and make [usually] unerring contact with it, often onto the sweet spot of the strings? Miracle, if you ask me.

Motor memory is dependent on a number of factors and there's no need to get technical here, even if I could but it's worth a read, just to see the complexity of the whole thing - motor neurons, synapses and so on. Let me not murmur the words "intelligent design" here but you know what I'm thinking.

Here's a little test of motor memory. You should really do the whole thing but for now, try this:

Get someone to highlight the words written in white in the gap below [yes, there are words there] and then say them slowly to you:

Dog - Bed - Smoke - Coat - Road - Job - Door - Shoes - Head - Drain

Now quickly say them back to your partner. They say that if you are normal, you should be able to repeat seven of them but I sure couldn't. If you are in doubt or even if you are not, try the whole of the test.

Imagine people who can't complete this test satisfactorily. There, but for the Grace of G-d ...

4 comments:

bunny said...

It's not something I often think about it, but when you do it makes sense.

When I learn a new piece of music, it's not me that learns it. It's my fingers. Like mapping out a journey in your head, my fingers know which key to press next.

Practice does indeed make perfect.

Anonymous said...

Signal transduction pathways.

jmb said...

I certainly have to think twice when I move from the automatic to the manual car we own. It certainly makes you think instead of doing things by "motor memory".

Now your test is a totally different kettle of fish as it is relying on your short term memory, one of the three types of memory whereas motor memory is training your body to do something by repetition. The original article you took this test from was written in 1930. I think there is a little more understanding of how the brain works since then you know. Just a thought, could be wrong.

James Higham said...

Bunny - like mapping, yes.

Anon - thanks for that.

JMB - I don't think you're wrong and you're a professional in this field.