October 10 2018

Is There Really Such A Thing As Muscle Memory?

Why We Sleep
In our quest for steno perfection, we spend countless hours practicing. After all, “practice makes permanent.” It’s been oft said that multiple hours of practice creates “muscle memory”; making our writing automatic.

While reading the book, “Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power Of Sleep And Dreams” By: Matthew Walker, I came across the following interesting passage that explains why the term “muscle memory” is a misnomer:

“The term ‘muscle memory’ is a misnomer. Muscles themselves have no such memory: a muscle that is not connected to a brain cannot perform any skilled actions, nor does a muscle store skilled routines. Muscle memory is, in fact brain memory. Training and strengthening muscles can help you better execute a skilled memory routine. But the routine itself- the memory program- resides firmly and exclusively within the brain.”

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November 6 2015

The Brain’s Natural Battle Of Speed vs. Accuracy

Speed and AccuracyIn his book, “Brainblocks,” clinician Dr. Theo Tsaousides discusses the brain’s natural give-and-take tug-of-war of speed vs. accuracy. His expert rendition of the brain’s conflict between speed and accuracy makes what we do as stenographers seem even more amazing! Here’s what he had to say:

“Your brain can process things fast or it can process them accurately. These two qualities, speed and accuracy, are always is competition. As one goes up the other goes down. You can do things fast or you can do them well. Under normal circumstances, it is impossible to increase both your speed and your accuracy.

Efficiency is the ideal balance between speed and accuracy. It refers to the highest speed at which you can process information without making mistakes. Imagine that you’re reading an interesting article in your favorite magazine. Efficiency is the length of time it takes you to finish reading the article and to also understand the content. If you read it faster than your brain can process, you will miss some of the information in the article, you will not pick up some of the details, and you will forget it faster. If you slow down and read it at a more leisurely pace, you will process, understand, and remember the information in the article much better. But you may be late for work!

Impatience happens when you favor speed over accuracy. Instead of taking your time, you choose to do things quickly. Instead of waiting for things to fall in place, you want things to happen faster. But inevitably, doing things faster increases the chances of making more mistakes, which you have to go back and fix.”

After reading that passage, how amazing is it that we train our brains to master both speed and accuracy?! Awesome!

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March 4 2015

Steno Fun Fact: The 90-Minute Focus Peak

I Love Steno Logo (Cropped)Under a sub-heading entitled, “Time Your Breaks,” the March 2015 issue of Money magazine states: “Research shows your brain losses focus on a task after about 90 minutes.”

Based on this information, it wouldn’t hurt to take a 5-minute break after an hour and a half of practice to get a focus reboot.

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June 7 2014

Do Court Reporters Have More Dendrites? The Stenographer/Musician Connection Demystified

DendritesThe word “dendrite” is derived from the Greek word for “tree.” Dendrite is so named because it is branch-like in appearance. The presence of dendrites is what makes neurons (nerve cells) different from any other type of cell.

Neuron cells have tens of thousands of dendrites protruding from its core. Dendrites serve the purpose of receiving and transmitting electrical impulses from neurons. Neuron cells comprise approximately 10% of the 100 billion cells that make up the brain.

Scientists have discovered that there is a direct relationship between the composition of a person’s brain and the work that they do. According to, “How The Brain Learns,” By: David A. Sousa: “Recent studies of neurons in people of different occupations (e.g., professional musicians) show that the more complex the skills demanded of the occupation, the more dendrites were found on the neurons. This increase in dendrites allows for more connections between neurons resulting in more sites in which to store learnings.”

I wonder how much my dendrite count has increased since I started studying steno. The aforementioned quote from “How The Brain Learns” also makes me wonder if the high dendrite count on neurons in the brain of musicians is the reason why it is often said that people who play a musical instrument are likely to learn steno at a faster rate than people who don’t.

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