As you probably know Dave, but just in case – there is a lot of work on experts, and how they codify knowledge, which reflects some of the stuff you and Dave Snowden are talking about. So if we take expert chess players (they like experimenting on chess players), then they interpret a board differently to us non-experts. They recognise bigger chunks and patterns, linked to a vast store of previous game situations. So, if you show and expert and a novice a quick pic of a board, the expert will be able to reproduce it much better than the novice. They are remembering it as one chunk eg Kasparov’s defence in game X. Novices are remembering it as many different chunks eg “there was a black knight next to the white rook” etc. So this is what habituation may mean (and it’s probably what cabbies are doing) – beginning to have patterns and chunks that you process.
Interestingly if you show an expert chess player a board with the pieces placed randomly ie not a mid-game position, then they recall it with the same accuracy as a novice, because it isn’t linked to a pattern.
Oh, and could you knock me up a rocking chair?