Test Of Motor Memory

A few simple tests and drills will serve to show your motor memory efficiency and at the same time help to develop it. For a test of motor reaction, take a lead pencil and see how many dots you. can make on a piece of paper in a minute. Repeat this at intervals and note your percentage of increase. Take a pair of medium-sized objects, lift each carefully—first in one hand, then the other, and guess which is heavier.

Verify your estimate by the scales. Do the same with two heavy objects, then with the two light objects. Repeat this test at frequent intervals and note the result. Now take a test which combines the aural and motor. Do not look at the following ten words in italics, but have some one read them to you. As soon as you have heard them once, write down immediately as many as you can: Park—Book—Coat—Hand—Smoke—Duck—Gold—Wolf—Ice—Map.

The average adult should be able to write down seven of these words upon hearing them once. If you cannot write down that number, your memory is below the average according to the tests I have made in various classes. So far the test has been aural, but now comes the application of motor memory. On the second trial you should have no difficulty in remembering the words you have . already written—the combination of the aural and motor will make them stick. The difficulty, if any, will be with the words you missed on the first reading. Herein lies the value of taking notes on lectures—you- hear the idea, then reinforce the, impression by writing. People very seldom forget what they have writ-ten. Combine your visual and motor powers on the following paragraph by first reading it silently then writing it.

Don’t give me the man who thinks he thinks, Don’t give me the man who thinks he knows, But give me the man who knows he thinks, And I have the man who knows he knows.

If you did not get it in two trials, try reading it aloud, then write, thus combining the visual, aural, and motor. This, by the way, is an excel-lent method for mastering anything. Read it aloud and jot it down. Bring three faculties into play: See it, hear it, write it.


A trained motor memory is a wonderful asset to the student or the writer who forms the habit of continually taking notes or writing out his ideas. In fact, it is a great help to any one.

Put it in black and white, not so much that you may see it, as that the formation of the letters through the touch and movement of your fingers, even though your eyes may be closed, will enlist the aid of the motor sense in recording the impression on the brain. Put it in black and white, .and your chance of remembering will be increased tenfold. For several years I had a blind man in my class who had a wonderful memory. His ear was finely attuned, and so well trained that he could recognize each member of the class by the sound of his voice and unerringly call him by name. But success as a student was due even more to his sensitive fingers, trained both to read and write. Not only could he sign his own name legibly, but by the touch of his fingers he read the raised alphabet of the blind so accurately that on several occasions he pre-sided as chairman when a number of speakers were to be introduced, and with his fingers on the program, by the power of his motor memory introduced each in turn without a slip.


Motor memory is best developed in the blind and deaf. Being deprived of the visual and the aural, they concentrate on the motor, developing it to a wonderful degree. They acquire a rare delicacy of touch which is almost equal to an extra sense. Helen Keller, and many others, not so well known, have demonstrated marvelous possibilities of the motor memory. This high efficiency seems to be nature’s compensation for the loss of the other faculties.

I can see Helen Keller standing with folded hands, giving expression to the tragedy of her life in these words:

” I stand before life’s shut gate and wait, beyond that barred door I cannot go. I cannot see. I cannot hear. Only in imagination can I enter into the mysteries of sight and sound beyond that door and dimly sense the beauties of the colors of the world, colors which I have never seen and can never see, dimly sense the sweet sounds of this world, sounds which I have never heard and can never hear, but when imagination fails all my yearning falls back upon my empty heart and fills it with the tragedy of unshed tears.”

Yet this brave soul rose above her physical limitations and in her own writings, sounded the keynote of courageous optimism. These words from The World I Live In show the brighter side of the picture:

” Thus mind itself compels us to acknowledge that we are in a world of intellectual order, beauty, and harmony. The essences, or absolutes of these ideas, necessarily dispel their opposites which belong with evil, disorder, and discord. Thus deafness and blindness do not exist in the immaterial mind, which is philosophically, the real world, but are banished with the perishable material senses. Reality, of which visible things are the symbol, shines before my mind. While I walk about my chamber with unsteady steps, my spirit sweeps skyward on eagle wings and looks out with unquenchable vision upon the world of eternal beauty.”

All honor, I say, to the brave souls who have lost the visual and aural faculties. Surely we who possess them should be grateful, and make the most of them.






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