When you repeat something — a musical note at the sitar, a tennis stroke, a list of foreign
words — it is as if the repetition etches a groove in your brain. Don’t take the analogy literally; there’s no real groove in the brain. But repetition seems to cause anatomical and chemical changes that fix learned material in your memory and give you easy access to it.
No one is sure what those changes are. It is possible that parts of the neurons where memories are stored grow in size or number. There is also evidence that repeated stimulation of the neurons increases their output of memory-enhancing proteins.
And there are indications that these and other changes strengthen the connections between neurons and facilitate the transmission of impulses along certain nerve pathways.
One important point to remember: practice makes for perfect performance only if what you practice is really what you want to remember. If you keep playing one wrong note in the music, if you keep pronouncing foreign words incorrectly, you will learn your mistakes, and you will find it very difficult to unlearn them subsequently.
So be sure you have it right (whatever ‘it’ might be) before you begin repeating it over and over to engrave it on your brain.