Balance as a sense and a component of cognition

exile

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While waiting for several hours till midnight at the Harry Potter party we were at last Friday, I noticed a book in Barnes and Noble's Science/Medicine section that looked kind of interesting, so I picked it up and... and found myself, by the time our turn on line came, something like a hundred pages into it and determined to buy and finish it. It's called Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense, by Scott McCredie, and is basically about the vistibular neuroanatomical system that regulates our awareness of being in (or off) balance. This is of course something that as MAists we're particularly interested in for practical reasons—most kicking practiced in the air is all about balance, after all—but McCredie has much larger fish to fry. He presents a really detailed, convincing set of arguments that balance is a sense, in the same way that vision and hearing are, by all standard criteria; and even more important, he surveys a lot of very active research work now in progess that shows that vestibular integrity is a component of cognitive tasks, like the aquisition of normal reading ability, and the ability to plan sequences of action, that have never previously been connected with this aspect of our kin疆sthetic competence. A variety of evidence appears to support the idea that balance is not simply the sensory analogue of what happens when you move a carpenter's level at different angles, but rather corresponds to a computational capacity within the cortex, just as visual and auditory processing do—that it is, in other words, a higher-order function, and one which is implicated in other higher order functions; so, for example, there seems to be some connection between dyslexia and impared balance capability, and improvement in the latter seems in many cases to seriously improve dyslexics' reading ability. There's a lot more stuff, on a really wide variety of seemingly disparte topics, that flow together quite seamlessly around the central issue of the workings and impact of this apparently least-known sense. Outstanding book, I think—even has some very helpful, practical suggestions on how to evaluate and improve ones' own sense of balance... check out the description and reviews at Amazon or elsewhere, this might be something you would find useful and informative.
 

Steel Tiger

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Interesting stuff!

I think it might gel well with a paper I was reading about human hand-eye coordination. It appears that we are hardwired for throwing things at small moving targets.

I'll have to get a copy of this book I think.
 
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exile

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Interesting stuff!

I think it might gel well with a paper I was reading about human hand-eye coordination. It appears that we are hardwired for throwing things at small moving targets.

I've never taken a fundamentalist evolutionary-psychology point of view... but what you say here doesn't surprise me at all! We're really good at that sort of thing (look at the Australian Aboriginal use of atlatls as lethal weapons at relative long ranges—well, you would know a lot more about that than I would, come to think of it!), and think of the adaptive pressure on groups to possess that skill...

I'll have to get a copy of this book I think.

S_T, I would much appreciate it if you could avoid posting your usual insightful, broadly educated, well-informed posts for an hour or two... I have my reasons.... :D

On my list sir, thanks!

Brian King

My pleasure, Brian, and I'd be interested in your thoughts on McCredie's `big idea' here...
 

jks9199

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Interesting stuff!

I think it might gel well with a paper I was reading about human hand-eye coordination. It appears that we are hardwired for throwing things at small moving targets.

I'll have to get a copy of this book I think.
Doesn't surprise me at all...

We sure aren't particularly well designed to rip other critters apart with our bare hands (like a tiger, for example), or crash our bodies against them (like a bull). And we like hard shells or bony ridges, too... We can do all that... but we sure don't seem to be ideally suited to it!
 

morph4me

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While waiting for several hours till midnight at the Harry Potter party we were at last Friday, I noticed a book in Barnes and Noble's Science/Medicine section that looked kind of interesting, so I picked it up and... and found myself, by the time our turn on line came, something like a hundred pages into it and determined to buy and finish it. It's called Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense, by Scott McCredie, and is basically about the vistibular neuroanatomical system that regulates our awareness of being in (or off) balance. This is of course something that as MAists we're particularly interested in for practical reasonsmost kicking practiced in the air is all about balance, after allbut McCredie has much larger fish to fry. He presents a really detailed, convincing set of arguments that balance is a sense, in the same way that vision and hearing are, by all standard criteria; and even more important, he surveys a lot of very active research work now in progess that shows that vestibular integrity is a component of cognitive tasks, like the aquisition of normal reading ability, and the ability to plan sequences of action, that have never previously been connected with this aspect of our kin疆sthetic competence. A variety of evidence appears to support the idea that balance is not simply the sensory analogue of what happens when you move a carpenter's level at different angles, but rather corresponds to a computational capacity within the cortex, just as visual and auditory processing dothat it is, in other words, a higher-order function, and one which is implicated in other higher order functions; so, for example, there seems to be some connection between dyslexia and impared balance capability, and improvement in the latter seems in many cases to seriously improve dyslexics' reading ability. There's a lot more stuff, on a really wide variety of seemingly disparte topics, that flow together quite seamlessly around the central issue of the workings and impact of this apparently least-known sense. Outstanding book, I thinkeven has some very helpful, practical suggestions on how to evaluate and improve ones' own sense of balance... check out the description and reviews at Amazon or elsewhere, this might be something you would find useful and informative.

You shure talk purdy :D. Sounds like a good book, I'm going to have to check it out, when I finish Harry Potter.
 

Makalakumu

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The idea in the book doesn't surprise me at all. When I think about my own education, motion and moving was always a part of it. I found that I could always do better on a test or reading a book after I had exercised.
 

Brian King

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Exile wrote:
My pleasure, Brian, and I'd be interested in your thoughts on McCredie's `big idea' here...

I have just started a couple of other books not to mention a couple of extensive college level lecture series (CD and DVD). This book is now on my reading list but not yet at the top. I am looking forward to getting into it and to following the conversations on this thread.

Thanks again sir
Brian King
 
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