July 21, 2021, 10:12 a.m.

Movement and attractors

Alessandro Bombardi

Breathing is an extremely interesting process, it can be completely automatic, and we do not think about it, but some branches of the vagus are directly related to the lungs andYoga teaches to move by adopting a specific learned breathing pattern so they create an association between an activity and a breathing pattern, others like Feldenkrais seek in my opinion to dissociate the breathing pattern from physical activity.

A lion does not think about its breathing whilst is chasing a gazelle or mating. A way to think about what happens when we dissociate the breathing from the movement pattern or the distribution in spaces of our body is by analogy with a complex dynamical system, as suggested by E. Thelen. The exploration of all the possibilities does not reinforce equally all the possible neural paths but select amongst them a specific attractor.

To clarify this view, let’s think about alternated fingers tapping at a given frequency. This task is easily performed but at a certain frequency the alternated movement can not be sustainable. An even more striking example is provided by the gait that, depending on the frequency, changes considerably with walking and jogging no longer sustainable above certain frequencies. Doing things slowly is hence necessary as it allows a thorough exploration of the movement possibility that above given frequency is not possible.
Further discussion of this point demands a more detailed distinctions of rhythmic and reflex movements and voluntary movements and pauses a question about the possibility of changing the frequency where a voluntary movement is reverted to an alternate one.

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Photo by Sime Basioli on Unsplash
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