What comes first – the motor pattern or the feeling?

Again, and still working with Moshe Feldenkrais’s ideas, this is such an interesting stance on learning… Feldenkrais once wrote:

“It takes us longer to think the numbers from twenty to thirty than from one to ten, although the numerical intervals are the same between one and ten and twenty to thirty. The difference is that the amount of time needed for thinking the numbers is proportional to the time needed to utter them aloud. So one of the “purest” abstractions – counting – is inextricably linked with the muscular activity through its nervous organization. …It is of course possible with sufficient training partially to inhibit the motor aspect of the thinking and thus increase the facility of thinking.” (p.28)

“Also, note how persistently we retain the same thoughts and the same modes of action throughout our lives – for example, how we use the same patterns of the speaking apparatus producing the same voice so that we can be identified by it for decades on end. This is equally true of our handwriting, our carriage, etc.; so long as there is no marked change in these, there is no change in our jokes, attitudes, and moods.
We have no sensation of the inner workings of the central nervous system. We can feel their manifestations only as far as the eye, the vocal apparatus, the facial mobilization, and the rest of the body provoke our awareness. This is the state of consciousness!
There is little doubt in my mind that the motor function, and perhaps the muscles themselves, are part and parcel of our higher functions. This is true not only of those higher functions like singing, painting, and loving, which are impossible without muscular activity, but also for thinking, recalling, remembering, and feeling.” (p.29)

What comes first – the motor pattern or the feeling? The question has been the object of many famous theories. I stress the view that basically they form a single function. We cannot become conscious of a feeling before it is expressed by a motor mobilization and, therefore, there is no feeling so long as there is no body attitude.” (pp.29-30)

Old age, for instance, begins with the self-imposed restriction on forming new body patterns. First, one selects attitudes and postures to fit an assumed dignity and so rejects certain actions, such as sitting on the floor or jumping, which then soon become impossible to perform. The resumption and reintegration of even these simple actions has a marked rejuvenating effect not only on the mechanics of the body but also on the personality as a whole.” (p.31)

“A person is made of three entities: the nervous system, which is the core; the body – skeleton, viscera, and muscles – which is the envelope of the core; and the environment, which is space, gravitation, and society. These three aspects, each with its material support and its activity, together give a working picture of a human being.
There is a functional correspondence between the core (the nervous system) and the outside physical world, or even the social environment. This relationship can be much closer and more vital than even between some adjacent parts of the nervous system itself. Think, for instance, of men going deliberately to face death in order to preserve an established social order. In this case, the ties of a nervous system to a social order may be stronger than those with the body itself, so that some individuals sacrifice the first two parts of themselves to preserve the third. It is to ignore reality, if one intends to make a change in the behavior of a person and disregard, even for a moment, any one of the three constituents of existence.
The nervous system relates itself to the body through the nerves and the hormonal chemistry, and to the outside world through the nerve endings and through the senses, which give information about position in space, pain, touch, and temperature. The nervous system has no direct perception of the outside world. What this means is that the distinction between the self and the outside world is a function which must be developed or learned.” (p.32)

Ref: (italics in original; emphases in blue bold mine) ‘Mind and Body’ Moshe Feldenkrais pp.27- Ed. Elizabeth Beringer (2010) Embodied Wisdom: The collected papers of Moshe Feldenkrais. Somatic Resources: San Diego, California


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Metaphors and Narratives around children and learners, Neuroscience and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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