Why do we never forget how to ride a bike?

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany have demonstrated that when we forget something, contacts between nerve cells may disappear, while many of their appendages remain.

Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology
Credit: Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology

The study closely studied nerve cells when information was blocked and then reopened.  Study researchers were most surprised to find that immediately after being blocked, nerve cells produced more dendrites and synapses, before the connections themselves were then lost.  However, the appendages leading to the lost points of connection remained, as if nerve cells anticipated the possibility of needing them again someday.  When the scientists reopened the information flow, connections re-developed more efficiently.   The original press release is here.  I have to admit that I’m behind multiple other reports of this study, such as this blog, and the story at ScienceDaily.