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  • Foto van schrijverPieter Derycke

Notes & Quotes - Sea Squirts

Music for this 'Notes & Quotes' is by Miike Snow, a great song called ‘Animal’ in the Mark Ronson remix.

If been using a story in my teaching, for some eight years now, about the sea squirt. The sea squirt is an organism, that, in its larval form, uses a primitive nervous system of about 300 cells to move around in the sea looking for a good spot to attach itself. There it will transform into its adult stage. Once stationary the sea squirt absorbs or digests its own nervous system (and its tail), because it no longer needs it for purposeful movement. The moral of the story: our nervous system is made for purposeful movement!

And recently, I’ve found that Daniel Wolpert, a neuroscientist and engineer studying the control of the brain on the body, uses exactly the same story, even with the same beautiful picture of the sea squirts! Now is he plagiarising me?

Of course not, I was inspired by Rodolfo Llinas, another neuroscientist, who tells the story of the sea squirt in his book ‘I of the vortex, from neurons to self’. I can also remember the philosopher Daniel Dennett (in his book ‘Consciousness explained’) using the same story, probably referring to Llinas. I can only guess that Wolpert was inspired buy the same book(s).

Anyway, If you have 20 minutes to spare, watch this TED-talk by Wolpert. Very useful.

Some very nice quotes from that talk worth repeating:

  • “You may reason that we have [brains] to perceive the world or to think, and that’s completely wrong.”

  • “There can be no evolutionary advantage to laying down memories of childhood or perceiving the color of a rose if it doesn’t affect the way you’re going to move later in life.”

  • “We have a brain for one reason and one reason only — and that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements.”

  • “I am a movement chauvinist.” (I am too!)

While we’re at it, some quotes from Llinas:

  • “The central generation of movement and the generation of mindness are deeply related; they are in fact different parts of the same process. In my view, from its very evolutionary inception mindness is the internalization of movement.” (p. 5)

  • “My argument is that sensory experience leading to active movement (motricity) through the function of prediction is the ultimate reason for the very existence of the central nervous system.” (p. 202)

Movement is all important. From cardiovascular health, bone density, joint functioning to central nervous system optimisation. For the health of each and every cell in your organism, to your mental wellbeing and overall happiness. Movement is life. And life is movement!

It are good times for movement chauvenists!




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