Diving into Research

Rhea R -

Welcome back!

Over the course of the past few days, I’ve been continuing to practice the parts of the choreography I’ve already gotten down and trying to perfect it. I have also started annotating my first research source, entitled, “The Science Behind Muscle Memory” – Stanford Scope.

In order to observe how muscle memory is being integrated into dance routines, we first have to gather a basic understanding of how the brain uses it on a physiological level.

Overview of Source 1:

Dr. Jun Ding, Stanford professor of neuroscience, begins with mentioning previous research done that showed Alzheimer’s patients that forgot their families but were still able to play music beautifully. This reveals that motor memories might be formed through different pathways than normal memories.

In the study, researchers Dr. Ding, Dr. Roth, and Dr. Hwang tested mice’s development of motor memory by training them to fetch food pellets. A genetic change allowed neural networks in their brains to appear fluorescent when activated. Over the course of the experiment, they noticed synaptic connections in two regions: the motor cortex and the dorsolateral striatum. The motor cortex is responsible for movement and the dorsolateral striatum is responsible for regulating habitual behaviors. Linking neurons in these different regions would mean that the mouse’s brain is actively recording the action being done and “making a note” of it for later use.

Weeks later, when they tested the mice’s memory of the action, they observed heightened activity in the newly formed neural pathways. They also mentioned that as the skill became persistent over time, its “redundancy” would cause the creation of multiple different pathways that would still all lead to the same ability. Even if the original neurons in the initial formation of the pathway died off or were suppressed, the brain will still execute the movement. Dr. Ding relates this to a highway system, stating that “If Interstate 101 and Highway 280 are both closed, you could still get to Stanford from San Francisco, it would just take longer”. He ends with hope for new studies designed with the intent to cute Parkinson’s disease, which essentially destroys the “memory highways”.

I enjoyed engaging with this research study, and look forward to learning more about the neuroscience of muscle memory as I continue with my project progress.

Credits: https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2022/07/15/the-science-behind-muscle-memory/

  • Rhea 🙂

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All viewpoints are welcome but profane, threatening, disrespectful, or harassing comments will not be tolerated and are subject to moderation up to, and including, full deletion.

    Hi Rhea! Your sources and journey have been super exciting to follow! How do you plan to integrate your background research with your observational data from the dance routine?
    Prerna Kumari
    Hey Rhea! I love your research so far! Will you be looking at how muscle memory differs between different dance styles?

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