Muscle memory

March 1, 2018, 4:24 PM · We've all heard the expression "muscle memory", when you successfully carry out a difficult technique in an activity without thinking about it, or after a long break from that activity. The general assumption has been that the expression not actually about a memory in the muscle but is shorthand for a memory in the brain that is controlling the muscle. How can you have memory in a muscle when there's no brain tissue there, is a question that might reasonably be asked, so the answer would be to go back to the brain itself.

It now appears from research in this field that "muscle memory" really exists and arises from changes in the DNA in the muscle.

Now molecular biology has never been part of my science studies so I'd be grateful for comments by any experts here in the field on the content of this link:

https://curiosity.com/topics/muscle-memory-is-real-and-thats-good-news-for-everyone-curiosity/

Replies (12)

March 1, 2018, 9:15 PM · Interesting research, but the conclusions have been extrapolated for the secondary article to a degree that I find irresponsible.

When they can tell me which genes I need to change to play thirds in tune, then I'll be impressed.

March 1, 2018, 10:39 PM · "muscle memory" is a misnomer. There are no neurons or memory cells outside of the brain and spinal chord. What really happens is that the genius cerebellum(?) takes care of all those multiple signals that allow us to perform really complicated physical tasks. If we had to use our conscious, front part of the brain to control and coordinate all the motions involved in walking, none of us could walk at all. So we train the back part of brain, with practice, repetition, over successive days. jq
Edited: March 1, 2018, 10:48 PM · In the Nature article, which is cited, they study expression of diffetent genes in muscles depending on the reqired level of muscels activity. The expression level among others parameters depends on the methylation level of dna pieces. This methylation in turn is regulated by small regulatory molecules, that are released during muscles activity. It turns out that the exact methylation state of several genes lasts much more longer than the presence of small regulatory molecules released during muscles activity.
They studied only one type of muscles activity and did not study how long the effect lasts. They only see, that 7 weeks is not enough to bring the muscles in the initial methylation state (as before experiment).


March 2, 2018, 12:55 AM · @Joel, There's nervous material in the gut.
March 2, 2018, 4:15 AM · Do you know where I can obtain one of those genius cerebellum things?
March 2, 2018, 10:13 AM · It is done by brain.

This is very close to singing, some lyrics, without memorization can be sang out because the song has been practiced for uncountable times, the brain controls the tongue, it goes same for fingerings and arco movement.

March 2, 2018, 2:00 PM · Sounds fishy to me.

I think there is a big difference between changing DNA and expressing a gene.

March 2, 2018, 4:17 PM · Only an arm transplant would tell us for sure. We need to convince a virtuoso to let us do this. Actually, probably 40 or 50 just to get good data. Maybe more.

Any volunteers?

March 2, 2018, 9:43 PM · Well, I'm not a virtuoso, but sure. After I'm dead of course.
March 3, 2018, 2:11 AM · Well, what is written in the link, is not really new, the new thing is that they have found out the information stores in the muscles and not in the brains. Dont know if the study is a good study though, but yes, Im quite sure that in some of the countries they use doping agents for young athletes and then stop before they start competing thus giving them an edge on competition. Unfortunately proliferating muscle also proliferates heart muscle thus raising the risk of heart disease and seriously raisinf the risk of sudden death in athletes :(

With violin I would suspect most of the memory comes through brains, or at least should become.

March 3, 2018, 2:41 AM · "The memory", in the article, is the memomry of regulation of the metabolic state of the cells of the muscles. Such information can not be storred in the brain. In the brain such information can be storred in terms of- high usage of brain (cognitive load etc) will develop the change in the regulation of brain cells metabolism, which will be there for longer time. In other words, people who ever used their brain intensivly will easier adapt to the the cognitive load in the near future.

For violinists this finding can have a meaning for adaptation for long practice, building up and developing muscles you use for this. If you manage to feel comfortable once, to adapt for the same level of load for you would be easier than if you would do it for a first time. If the brake is not longer than 7 weeks.
Example, when it can be used:
You know that you is going to a camp or similar, where you gonna practice more than usually. So to overlive this easier, and adapt faster for a new regime of practising, to try to minimize the muscles pain etc, you can try to load yourself with the same ammount of practice several weeks before, and than give yourself a brake.

All the sportsmen do it before competitions.

March 3, 2018, 9:52 AM · "Unfortunately proliferating muscle also proliferates heart muscle thus raising the risk of heart disease and seriously raisinf the risk of sudden death in athletes :("

Book recommendation (since someone mentioned the topic):
The Haywire Heart by Leonard Zinn et al.
Excellent new book explaining the possible connections between extreme training and heart arrythmias.

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