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Muscle memory

Quick Definition

Your brain is designed to be as efficient as possible. Thus, it creates shortcuts, allowing your subconscious mind to guess what you're going to do next and prepare for these actions to be carried out. If you've ever done something on "autopilot", you've witnessed this mechanism in action.

Specifically, muscle memory refers to shortcuts where your brain has learned to perform a series of movements in rapid succession, saving you the trouble of remembering or monitoring each detail. For example, you can probably unlock your smartphone or use your debt card at a store without actually thinking about your pin number.

People who play video games frequently end up with a number of such mental shortcuts, as most games use a standardized control scheme. Muscle memory can backfire spectacularly in some games, creating situations where it's a greater obstacle than anything programmed into the game itself.