Why you never forget how to ride a bike, explained by neuroscience
Said of skill that, once learned, is never forgotten.
Life experiences and facts are one type of memory. Riding a bike is another: it’s a skill, or a learned pattern of movement that neurologists refer to as ‘procedural memory’, more commonly known as ‘muscle memory’. This is a type of unconscious, long-term memory, where a person can recollect something without having to think; they have no direct, conscious awareness.
There are, of course, lots of skills – like driving a car or tying your shoelaces – that are so embedded in our minds that we barely have to think about them.
It’s not clear why procedural memories are harder to forget than others, but it might have something to do with where they’re stored in the brain; an area that seems relatively protected and resistant to rewiring.
- Why do I always walk into a room and forget what I’m doing?
- Is muscle memory real?
- Why do we forget things?
- When something is on ‘the tip of my tongue’, what’s happening in my memory?
Asked by: Lucy Hannigan, Sunderland
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