What is the non-music, touchpad number equivalent of "finger memory"?
December 1, 2006 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I just logged into a university library account by typing a 10 digit number. I have no clue what the number actually is, but I know exactly what to punch in. Similarly, I don't really know my pin code, I only know the shape it makes when I type it in, and the same goes for photocopy codes and frequently dialled phone numbers. What's this called? In music it's referred to as "finger memory", but this seems to be music specific. My guess was "kinetic memory", but that seems to be something else entirely.
posted by easternblot to Science & Nature (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
muscle memory.
posted by sdrawkcab at 1:04 PM on December 1, 2006

Muscle memory or motor memory?

posted by chairface at 1:04 PM on December 1, 2006

dang it.
posted by chairface at 1:04 PM on December 1, 2006

When I used to rock climb, the instructor had a word for muscle memory, something similar to "angram"? I agree, that "muscle memory" is a more intuitive way to say it.
posted by Alt F4 at 1:35 PM on December 1, 2006

I think it's muscle memory, too, and I realized that that's always what I ended up doing with my ATM password, so this time I chose one by shape and not by number.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:38 PM on December 1, 2006

I've also heard "sense memory".
posted by pazazygeek at 1:51 PM on December 1, 2006


Rahh, I tried to mark 3 best answers, but I only see one of them marked as best. I'll coma back later to make sure people get the proper credit =)
posted by easternblot at 2:13 PM on December 1, 2006

Not to de-rail, but have other people had this problem with the sort of muscle memory described: The telephone numbers and the key pad numbers are opposite of each other! My ten-key numberical muscle memory is strong and if I'm not looking directly at the phone when I try to dial, my hand dials the numbers as if it were a keyboard not a phone.
posted by dipolemoment at 3:26 PM on December 1, 2006

I've always called it the Lizard Brain. It happens to me as a musician all the time. I'll get called out to play a gig with a set list of songs I know, but haven't played in a while, and my hands willl often play them for me. I've been in moments of panic, where I was literally thinking "Crap! I've forgotten the chorus completely!" and my hands will find it just fine.

Also, I tend to memorize phone numbers by the pattern they make on the keypad as much as the numerals.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:41 PM on December 1, 2006

Me too. I've always thought of it as 'photographic' memory, it's just easier for me to remember a picture (or pattern) than a list of digits. It's easier to 'see' my hand making the moves than a number.
My brother, a very left-brain guy, doesn't get this at all.
posted by dkippe at 6:23 PM on December 1, 2006

My server's root password was set by our ISP. It's something similar to VIWR3T2P.

I can't, for the life of me, recall it at any point in time. I have the entire keyboard memorized, and I can type at 140 wpm, but still, sitting down and typing it is the only way for me to get it right. Definitely muscle memory.
posted by disillusioned at 2:16 AM on December 2, 2006

Off-topic: whoever decided the touch-tone keypad should be upside down from the adding machine should be hanged. Telephone operators' stations have the numeric keypad on the keyboard inverted for this reason.
posted by Myself at 12:06 PM on December 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

I am the same way, especially about phone numbers. Good to know I'm not the only one. Sometimes the people around me look at me strange when they ask for a phone number and I have to "push the buttons" in my head but usually by grabbing a phone to remember it.
posted by rfbjames at 4:38 PM on December 2, 2006

I have a similar experience with phone numbers, PINs and passwords, but I also seem to be able to remember how to spell some words by typing them and others by writing them down. There are quite a few words that I would be unable to spell in a spelling bee fashion, but with a pencil and paper or at a keyboard I can spell them flawlessly.

[aside] the phone number thing really bothered my ex. She was furious that I couldn't remember her phone number, but I was always able to dial it.[/aside]

I think this is actually wide-spread.
posted by samurphy at 3:49 PM on December 3, 2006

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