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Test your memory

Jason Bourne never let a spot of amnesia stand in his way.

Can you touch-type, snowboard, or play an instrument without really thinking about it? Most people who repeat the same movements regularly in their work will know about slightly spooky ‘muscle memory’.

As a magician, I spend a lot of time practicing tricks until certain muscle movements feel natural.

Even when people forget everything else, they can often remember things they’ve ‘burned into’ their bodies through repetition.

Do you remember the “Piano Man” who washed up on a beach in 2005?! He was soaking wet and wearing a nice suit, but couldn’t remember anything… until they sat him in front of a piano. Then he played perfectly, for four hours. The man turned out to be a hoax, but other musicians really have lost their memory – and kept their talent.

Clive Wearing tragically lost his memory due to a virus in 1985. Now he can only ever remember the previous 30 seconds, but he can still conduct a choir and play. He can’t recall events but he still knows how to do the things he loves. It’s so sad, but a completely amazing story. Check out the chapter about him in Oliver Sacks’s book ‘Musicophilia‘, and watch this:


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