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mcchen's picture

Riding a bike

During class, we discussed "muscle memory' in which a central pattern is generated somewhere other than the I-function.  After Grace's comment about piano playing and piece memorization, I realized that during several piano recitals I did have to try and not think about what I was doing.  When I started thinking about the piece I was playing or the what the next part I had to play sounded like, I would mess up.  I realized that I had to actively not think about anything, I had to clear my mind completely in order to play a piece from memory.  As our discussion of central pattern generation continues, I was just wondering how riding a bike fits into the picture.  It has been said that "you never forget how to ride a bike", so does this mean there is a part of the brain that registers certain movements and once you learn how to ride a bike, it never really goes away?  In this article http://www.physorg.com/news167053363.html, it claims that scientists have found why we don't forget how to ride a bicycle.  It talks about "gate-keeper" neurons that control electrical signals that leave the cerebellum and they can transform that signal into memory.  What I am wondering is that if there are such neurons that are able to take coordinated movements and turn them into memory, then why is it so selective? Why do we only "put away" the movements for riding a bike (and skiing and eating with chopsticks too based on the article)? What is it about these movements that make them essential so that we need to keep them for the rest of our lives?

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