Sunday, 28 February 2016

Learning About What is Already Part of You: How Movement Builds the Brain

"Field gave a fascinating explanation of how she understands early development: by day 49 in utero, the fetus begins to move a little left and a little right, more to one side than the other. This bias to one side will be a lifelong feature of that eventual human being's organization. But if this side-to-side movement does not occur at this time, the fetus does not survive. 

'This is a point in development when the organism is still nothing more than blood, nerve and bone-the brain does not yet exist' Field explained. 'in other words, movement precedes the brain and, you might say, movement builds the brain. Developmentally speaking, the head, neck and eyes are as much appendages as the limbs. We can only look to movement itself to explain how the nervous system itself is organized.'

After 10 to 12 weeks in the womb, three more basic movements have been added to the repertoire of this evolving human organism: folding forward, an arching movement, and a twist. All of these movements are organized slightly differently in one direction as opposed to the other, in keeping with the original bias. Long before birth, these movements are highly practiced and familiar. The unborn baby also has a clear sense of gravity, the fundamental question: Which way is up? As Field would often remind us, the newborn does not learn how to perform the most basic foundational movements, she learns about these movements that are already part of herself."

- From the article Developing a Healthy Bias: Four Days with Sheryl Field published in The Feldenkrais Journal, No 28 

 

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