Procedural Memory. How do they work and what can you learn to remember?

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#1 14 June, 2014 - 01:37
Joined: 3 years 2 months ago

Procedural Memory. How do they work and what can you learn to remember?

I was reading Dominic O'Brien's book and came across Procedural memories they are the memory of how to do things rather than what they are and are learned skills and are performed unconsciously such as riding a bike or walking. What I am interested in is how they work and can you teach your self Procedural movements or actions or use them to remember information in some way. I remember once on T.V. someone explaining how soldiers in parades can throw their gun into the air so it spins round 360 degrees and then catch it without ever dropping it and they do this because the muscles in the arms are trained to do exactly the same movement every time, is that Procedural memory?
This is some information from Dominic O'Brien's book I thinks interesting. Some researchers have discovered that the survival of procedural memory depends upon the skill concerned. Only continuous skills that require a constantly varying response to a constantly varying stimulus are remembered for a lifetime - such as riding a bike, or anything involving balance. so called discrete skills, requiring a succession of separate actions - such as driving a car - are not nearly so permanent, and can deteriorate noticeably without practice, even after a relatively short period of time. That's where the saying you never forget how to ride a bike comes from.

22 June, 2014 - 13:30
Joined: 2 years 12 months ago

Soldiers learn to do that sort of thing by rote. This isn't just a matter of memory, they also have to train their nervous system to know how everything should feel and precisely how high to throw the rifle. They repeat the motion over and over until its so deeply ingrained that it's second nature. Reportedly it's one of the secrets to moving faster.

As far as procedural memory goes, a lot of that isn't really memory. I can take things apart and put them together using procedural memory, which is to say that I remember the pieces and where they go and then just worry about doing things in the correct order based upon how they releate together. I can do that because I understand how the system was put together and how the pieces related to each other.

Oddly enough, this is a completely separate situation to remembering the order of things. I'm pretty much incapable of remembering things in order without specialized methods for remembering things in order. So, I have to use Loci, Linkwords or similar or the order gets scrambled.

28 June, 2014 - 10:31
Joined: 3 years 2 months ago

I have been cycling for over 10 years so this is why I'm trying to figure it out. Any journey method technique works well when cycling I can remember most main paths in the 2 forests i used to ride in years ago but procedural memory I find harder to understand the connection with bikes. I think the easiest way to understand it is a professional piano player. He could play lots of songs from memory and he uses his fingers to play the piano which is a motor skill which is what websites are saying procedural memory basicly is.

2 July, 2014 - 09:24
Joined: 3 years 10 months ago

Yes, procedural memory is the term for the memory involved in this kind of motor skill, some kind of bodily movements a person becomes very familiar with. Just exactly like walking -- at some point we didn't know how, and had to figure it out, and we got good at it. It *is* memory, and psychologist call it procedural memory. But it's not the kind of cerebral thinking memory we're normally working on here.

How it works ... I don't know if anyone really knows exactly. Obviously there are parts of your brain and nervous system that control body activity whether you have to think about how to do those things or not. If you do something over and over and over again, the "memory" of how to do it sinks in somehow so you no longer have to think of it. That applies to any athlete performing a skilled move like a jump shot, just as it would apply to these soldiers in a parade.

There's no shortcut to it. It requires a LOT of practice -- doing it, sensing feedback, getting yelled at for doing it wrong, doing it again, repeat 10,000 times until you don't have to consciously think about it.

If you're getting at how to apply mnemonics -- there may be specific scenarios where that can help. A person might use mnemonics to help them learn something like dance steps or a complex football play, but to get an activity into procedural memory you'll have to progress way past conscious mnemonic techniques through a lot of rote repetition.

As for mountain bike trails ... seems to me that's not an issue of procedural memory. Procedure memory means, you can balance on your bike and you don't have to think about "push down with right foot, push down with left foot, push down with right foot ..." Learning trails is more top-line cognitive so to speak. You can learn them by rote until you've mastered routes without much thought, but I don't think that would fall into the procedural memory category.

19 April, 2015 - 19:34
Joined: 1 year 11 months ago

Well for Procedural memory to work is a 3-step process.
1) Learn the parts of the skill (conceptually).
2) Practice the skill till its automatic
3) Perfect the skill through experience, knowledge, and observation.

The first step is where you would use something like the journey technique.

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