How does muscle memory work?


For example: being stressed out before a concert because you don’t know the notes/chords in memory, but once you start playing, your hand just knows whats to do.

In: Biology

The same way you don’t think about moving your feet while walking or inhaling or exhaling while breathing

“Muscle memory” is a bit of a misnomer, since your muscles don’t actually remember anything at all. The memory is still entirely neurological, and isn’t really that different from other kinds of memories. You can think about a certain sight or smell, sound, or smell and call it to memory. Likewise, you can do so with skills.

When I think “throw a punch” my brain acts it out as if it is preparing to do it. And because I’ve got a little bit of boxing training, what it acts out incorporates that training and my experience throwing punches, making the punch I throw in my head a more skillful one than that of someone who has never practiced.

So, for muscle memory, it’s actually your brain memory that is doing it.

You’ve practiced the behavior so many times that you’ve created a pathway in your brain of doing that behavior (also why you follow the same path down the stairs, even when you mean to go to a different area). Then, when you start playing, your brain remembers the pathway you’ve created and puts it into motion.