In the most recent episode of Rick and Morty, Rick used a mysterious device to extract “muscle memory” from a severed arm and injects the stuff on Morty’s arm for "redistribution". But as it turns out, the jacked arm not only has muscle memory--it thinks for itself and has a memory of its own!
Although this technology is entirely fictional, there is actually some science behind it.
“Can muscles really drive behavior independent of the nervous system?” a 2011 paper reads. Researchers used nematodes or roundworms to study this of which results showed that they were able to “generate spontaneous voltage spikes independent of the nervous system."
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology also claimed that muscle memory is indeed real. Researchers found that that muscles that were strong before can get strong again quite quickly than trying to make weak muscles get stronger. The study supplemented this idea by stating that there is “a cellular memory in skeletal muscle in which hypertrophy is 'remembered' such that a fiber that has previously been large, but subsequently lost its mass, can regain mass faster than naive fibers."
The episode also showed that with the new arm, Morty learns specialized fighting skills, killing waves or “deathstalkers”. This is similar to how Neo from the Matrix learns all the fighting skills by downloading them into his mind. Surprisingly and quite amazingly, a 2016 study has done a similar approach; researchers used a type of neuroscience called “decoded neurofeedback” to teach skills to participants at a rate faster than normal by activating different parts of the brain.
Some scientists are even researching more on “genetic memory”. Dr Darold A. Treffert, a psychiatrist who specializes in the epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders and savant syndrome, wrote in 2015 that genetic memory is “complex abilities and actual sophisticated knowledge inherited along with other more typical and commonly accepted physical and behavioral characteristics.”
There have been people that have suffered strokes, comas, and even head injuries and they suddenly been able to do things at a higher level. "The challenge is how to tap that dormant capacity non-intrusively and without a brain injury or similar incident," Treffert wrote.
Now that puts science in science fictions!
Get weekly science updates in your inbox!