Use it or Lose it

Submitted by Chris Webster on Sun, 2008/10/26 - 05:42
Opening Skinner's Box

Every time you practice a task, you further burn into your brain the webwork of neurons responsible for carrying out that task; the more you rehearse a memory, telling it to yourself over and over, the stronger and smoother that electrochemical conversation between those particular synapses in your skull. I know this to be true. We have in our house a small piano. My fingers at first were clumsy on the keys. Now though, a few weeks later, having played every day, I feel a linked loop de loop in my brain. I feel how the grooves up there give grease to my fingers so they can trot smoothly over the notes, just one simple song. But by playing that piano, I jostled at least two noncommunicating neurons into a relationship, and this, in the end, is what memory depends on—relationship—our brains are relentlessly relational, yes, it’s one big in there, strangers contacting strangers, finding their well-worn ways to each other’s doors.


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