The Act of Forgetting: Beyond Memory

A foreign language, a recipe, how to spell a word without autocorrect, your Netflix password, a high school classmate, your first license plate, and…spinal flexibility. What do these have in common? You guessed it. We can experience “learned non-use” with any of these – memories or movements. In a sense, when our daily mobility becomes more invariant and we do not use our full range of motion (ROM), we “forget” and lose that flexibility over time. Granted, this is more of a peripheral issue at the level of muscles, tendons and ligaments, than forgetting a phone number is, represented in neurons and connections. However, the principle of “Use it or Lose It” governs both.

Let’s extend this concept one step farther, where movement does meet memory, in motor control for actions that had once been familiar to us…yet are no longer easily accessible. Is this also learned non-use? Do we actually ever forget how to ride a bike, brush our teeth, or walk?

Stay tuned, we will address this in an upcoming blog.