Massage & Bodywork

MARCH | APRIL 2017

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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 91 such as throwing a ball, playing guitar, or massaging a client's shoulders. This is a functional form of memory that cannot be consciously recalled. Such memories are typically acquired through repetition and practice and are composed of automatic sensorimotor behaviors that are so deeply embedded we are no longer aware of them. Once learned, these "body memories" allow us to carry out ordinary motor actions more or less automatically (i.e., the hands know more than the head). The question is how did I move from explicit to implicit memory during that complex closing stretch, and is there a faster way to get there? MULTIMEDIA LEARNING SPEEDS MASTERY Today's neuroscientists have discovered that implicit memories are primarily encoded and stored in the cerebellum and motor cortex, both of which are involved in motor control (Image 2), whereas explicit memories are predominately encoded by the hippocampus. For years, scientists erroneously believed all information on a particular subject—whether learned via reading, watching TV, or listening to an audio device—was compiled in a single area of the brain. Media theorist Marshall McLuhan was one of the fi rst to disagree with this theory. In his classic book Understanding Media, McLuhan introduced the world to the idea that "the medium is the message." 2 Put simply, the manner in which information is communicated has more of a profound effect on the person receiving the information than the information itself. So, what does that mean for manual and movement therapists? The takeaway is that tapping into a variety of methods to learn and practice one's skill set may be the fastest road to mastery. In other words, the most effi cient way to move information from explicit to implicit memory is through multimedia formats, which include visual, touch, audio, and other sensory inputs. For example, participating in various hands-on workshops and research conferences exposes the brain to diverse viewpoints on the same subject, making learning more fun and engaging, and, therefore, more effective. To expand your skill set, practice does make perfect, but the process can be speeded along by exposure to a variety of learning mediums, such as books, DVDs, audio recordings, and technique demonstrations from an array of educators. The brain loves novel stimuli, such as playfully practicing techniques while viewing yourself in a mirror or teaching a new routine to a partner. Adding emotion to your sessions through playful practice further stimulates the brain's amygdala function, causing memories to move more quickly from explicit to implicit. Rolf was right when she implied that you can't teach experience—but we now know the process of mastery can be accelerated. Notes 1. Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008): 7–8. 2. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964). Erik Dalton, PhD, is the executive director of the Freedom from Pain Institute. Educated in massage, osteopathy, and Rolfi ng, Dalton has maintained a practice in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for more than three decades. For more information, visit www.erikdalton.com. Explicit memories are encoded and stored in the hippocampus, while implicit memories primarily reside in the cerebellum and motor cortex. Adding emotion and playful practice stimulates amygdala function, helping to fast- forward the information from explicit to implicit memory. Image adapted from Dreamstime. 2 Hippocampus Cerebellum Amygdala

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