Your procedural memory is what helps you do things automatically, without thinking about them too much. For example, this morning you made your usual breakfast of banana pancakes.
Then you rode your bike to the store and came back typing on your laptop keys to answer emails. And at lunchtime, while playing classical guitar, nostalgia hit and I needed a few minutes to break to play “Classical Gas.”
Harder to directly train than explicit forms of memory, procedural memory is a component of long-term memory that deals with the performance of actions and skills.
With the right conditioning and lifestyle decisions, however, it is possible to see an improvement in your ability.
What is procedural memory?
Procedural memory is the type of long-term memory that helps you to perform tasks or skills automatically, without having to think about them too much.
It’s often referred to as your “muscle memory” because it includes all of the things that you have to do in order to complete a physical task, like riding a bike or tying your shoes.
It can also include simple mental tasks that you do regularly, like adding numbers in your head or remembering how to get to the grocery store.
Essentially, procedural memory is anything that you can do without really having to think about it.
For most people, procedural memory is largely implicit, which means that we don’t really have to consciously think about what we’re doing in order to do it.
However, some parts of procedural memory can be explicit, which means that we’re aware of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
For example, when you first learn how to ride a bike, you have to think about each individual step in the process. But once you’ve mastered the skill, you can do it automatically without really thinking about it.
Procedural memory is important because it allows us to do things automatically, freeing up our conscious mind to focus on other things.
For example, if you didn’t have procedural memory, you would have to consciously think about every single step involved in riding a bike, which would make it very difficult (if not impossible) to actually ride the bike.
Similarly, if you had to consciously think about every single step involved in tieing your shoes, you would probably never get them tied!
Thankfully, thanks to procedural memory, we don’t have to worry about these things – we can just do them without thinking.
How is procedural memory different from other types of memory?
Procedural memory is just one type of long-term memory. It’s different from other types of long-term memory, like declarative memory and semantic memory, in a few key ways.
Declarative vs Procedural Memory
Declarative memory is the type of long-term memory that stores facts and information. This includes things like your address, the capital of France, and the name of your first-grade teacher.
Semantic memory is a type of declarative memory that stores general knowledge about the world, like the meaning of words or how a chair is typically used.
Procedural memory, on the other hand, is the type of long-term memory that stores information about how to do things. This includes things like riding a bike, tieing your shoes, or cooking your favorite recipe.
Procedural memories are often created through repetition and practice, and they often don’t require conscious effort to recall. For example, you might not be able to explain exactly how to tie a shoelace, but you can still do it without thinking about it.
While declarative and procedural memories are stored in different parts of the brain, they both play an important role in our everyday lives.
Without declarative memories, we would have trouble understanding and communicating with others. And without procedural memories, we would have trouble performing even basic tasks.
What affects procedural memory?
There are a few different things that can affect our procedural memory. For example, age and sleep deprivation can both have an impact on our ability to learn new skills or remember how to do things.
As we get older, our procedural memory generally gets worse. This is one of the reasons why it’s often harder for older adults to learn new skills or remember how to do things that they haven’t done in a while.
However, it’s important to note that not all older adults experience a decline in their procedural memory. And, even for those who do, the decline is usually gradual and mild.
Sleep deprivation can also have a negative impact on our procedural memory. This is because sleep is important for consolidating new memories and skills.
So, if we don’t get enough sleep, we may have trouble learning new things or remembering how to do things that we’ve already learned.
Drug abuse can also impact our procedural memory. This is because drugs like alcohol and marijuana can interfere with the brain’s ability to store new memories.
So, if you abuse drugs, you may have trouble learning new skills or remembering how to do things that you’ve already learned.
Procedural memory is an important part of our long-term memory. It allows us to do things without thinking about them, and it’s usually created through repetition and practice.
How can we improve our procedural memory?
When we want to improve our procedural memory, one of the best things we can do is practice.
This is because practicing helps us to consolidate new memories, and it becomes more likely that we will be able to recall the skills later when we need them.
When we practice, we are effectively rewiring our brains and building new neural pathways that will help us to remember the task at hand.
So next time you’re struggling to remember how to do something, try practicing it a few times. You may be surprised at how well it works.
One of the best ways to improve our procedural memory is to practice the skills that we want to remember. This is because practice helps to consolidate new memories and makes it more likely that we’ll be able to recall them later.
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for many reasons. It helps to consolidate new memories, improves mood and reduces stress.
It also boosts immunity and can help to prevent diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Sleep is also crucial for physical safety; drowsy driving is a leading cause of car accidents.
So, if you’re looking to improve your memory or just want to be healthy and safe, make sure you get plenty of rest.
Stay mentally active
Research has shown that there are many benefits to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. This is especially true as we age when it becomes even more important to keep our brains sharp.
One way to do this is by staying mentally active. This can involve anything from reading and doing puzzles to attending educational classes or learning a new skill.
By keeping our minds challenged, we can help improve our procedural memory and delay the onset of age-related cognitive decline.
So, whether you’re trying to remember how to make your favorite recipe or just want to stay sharp as you get older, staying mentally active is a good way to give your brain a workout.
Procedural memory is an important part of our long-term memory. It allows us to do things without thinking about them and is usually created through repetition and practice.
There are several things that we can do to improve our procedural memory, including practicing the skills that we want to remember, getting a good night’s sleep, and staying mentally active.
So, next time you’re struggling to remember how to do something, try one of these techniques and see if it helps. Your brain will thank you for it.