Eli5: Why does Kinaesthetic Memory seem to be so much stronger than other types of memory


Why is it that when a person learns to ride a bike, even if they don’t go near a bike for 5 years they can usually ride just fine (maybe a few minutes to get the hang of things again) , but if you ask someone to remember the capital of Bhutan, they would probably forget the name within a few weeks, (if they didn’t’ actively recall this fact).

I know these examples seem obscure, but I think the same is true for many things, like learning to play an instrument, or a certain skill in a sport, people just seem to remember physical movements for longer. I may be speaking for myself here, but if I’m not, may someone explain why this is the case.

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I’ll keep it REAL simple.

Different parts of the brain are used to perform different tasks. “Muscle memory” isn’t a thing as muscles don’t have memory. But the part of the brain that learns to do specific motor tasks, like riding a bike, is specialized. It has to be, or you could wake up and forget how to walk, which is learned the same way riding a bike.

Another thing is recall memory uses multiple parts of the brain. This is why you can recall a movie, but not remember the name. That’s because it requires you to not only remember but to communicate that information.