#11: Genesis Movement Part II

#11: Genesis Movement Part II

In this episode
Im going to debunk the myth in exercise. You know, the myth, that if you work out for an hour or two a day; that your golden. Would you eat one meal a day and skip the rest of the meals? What would happen if you did? The excercise culture dilemma: Why an increasing number of people stay fat, lethargic and prone to sickness despite their excercise routine. The secret is so simple, it works 100% of the time when you know how to hack your own biology.


I discuss:

  • Why the sea squirt has rewritten our Biology text books
  • The ONLY reason we have a brain
  • The Sensoy Feedback Edge
  • Why we require 8-10 miles of walking a day

I am really excited to start you on this journey and I hope to add a lot of value to your life as a whole.

Show Transcript:

Nutrition is remarkable in its ability to have people with completely opposite views saying they have science to support completely opposite views.

Frustrating isn’t it?  What are we suppose to believe?

In our last show in this training of the move driver of the five pillars of a dynamic health I was talking about The Beginning of Movement, I explained that Humaities ability to speak, write, use gestures, and even use sign language are mediated through our contractions of muscle; through movement. Even our sensory modalities, memory, and cognitive processes either drive or suppress future movements.  If you hadn’t heard the last episode, go back and do that first.  otherwise this isn’t gonna make sense.  This is part II.  So sorry, I don’t usually do that.  So, I’m gonna continue debunking the myth in exercise physiology.  You know, the myth, that if you work out for an hour or two a day; that your golden.  Again, Let me ask you that question, would you eat one meal a day and skip the rest of the meals?  what would happen if you did?  You would be deficient in nutrients.  You would get sick.  Now do that for 20, 40, 60 years of your life.  And you have a recipe for chronic disease.  You can’t only do exercise for an hour and then sit or stand in a static immobile sedentary position all day; that is killing us.  Again, like everything else in science, we all disagree.  So Im going to give you my perspective of human movement, not rat and animal based, but human movement and how it really relates to you.  Not the rat.  Not the animal.  You.  Their is a difference guys. But first, we have to discover the origin of human movement.  And that leads us to Dynamism Biohack, The beginning of movement Part II.

Dr. Wolpert is a British medical doctor, neuroscientist, and engineer, with outstanding contributions in computational biology. He would have this to say: “Now for those who do not believe this argument, we have trees and grass on our planet without the brain, but the clinching evidence is this animal here — the humble sea squirt.” The sea squirt is an immature, undeveloped, basic form of an animal. It has a nervous system and swims around in the ocean in its juvenile life.

The sea squirt has a fascinating story to tell. It begins its life as an egg and develops into a tadpole-like creature, complete with a spinal cord down to the tail. The sea squirt has a brain that helps it wiggle its tail to locomote through the water. The interesting thing is, its mobility does not last long.  Once it finds a suitable home, it attaches itself and never moves again.

After it implants itself to its home, slowly digesting its brain and nervous system for food. In other words, the lesson of the sea squirt teaches something marvelous to science, because once you do not need to move, you do not need a brain. There is an interesting relationship between movement and the brain. Dr. Wolpert considers himself a movement chauvinist. He states, “I believe (that) movement is the most important function of the brain– do not let anyone tell you that it is not true.”

What is the relationship between movement and the brain? Most neuroscientist would agree that this is a difficult problem. Dr. Wolpert uses an analogy to explain this complicated matter with the game of chess.

The question in chess is, how do we determine what piece to move and where? If you pit my nine-year-old son, when he is not drawing and working on children stories, against his computer chess game, the computer chess game will win every time. That problem is solved. But let us suggest a different skill that the more difficult aspect of chess, though, is picking up a chess piece, dexterously manipulating it and putting it back down on the board? If you put a nine-year-old child’s dexterity against the best robots of today, the answer is simple: the child wins easily.

There is no competition at all.  The simplest of motions for us like picking up a pencil is maddeningly complex, requiring coordination and computational power beyond electronic abilities.  In other words, for this, you need a brain.

In the area of robotics, why is the computational power so natural, and the dexterity so hard? One reason is that a very smart nine-year-old could learn what the algorithm is for that problem by looking at all possible moves to the end of the game; he can then choose the one that makes him win. It is a very simple algorithm that he learns, the more he plays the game.

Of course, there are many other moves, but the computers can only approximate toward the solution. In robotics, dexterity’s algorithm is rather unclear; you have to solve to be dexterous. Human beings have to both perceive and act in the world with movement, which has a lot of problems when you try to make a computer do it. This is why in robotics, it does not move and perform with anything like the agility of a human.

In other words, there is no generalization to implement an algorithm from one task to another in robotics, because dynamic movement is required for dexterity. Let us compare this to cutting-edge human performance. Recall that Dr. Wolpert says “we have a brain for one reason only: to produce adaptable and complex movements. There is no other plausible explanation.” He is saying that our brains are built on and inextricably tied to the movement of our bodies. The movement creates our brain because movement requires a brain.

When my nine year old son desires to strategically move his knight, his brain must execute complex commands in order for dexterity to function.  The different neurological senses for touch, pressure, temperature, ect. harmonize through different areas of brain centers simultaneously to a working order.

First, he must pick up the knight without knocking it over on the chess board.  He needs to determine how much pressure he needs to use to get the right amount of grip to pick up the piece without dropping or crushing it. Then, he needs to determine the careful movements as he navigates the knight to the next square without knocking down other pieces.  Finally, he must determine how gentle or hard he needs to be as he places the knight into the new square.  In order to control all of these specialized movement functions, his brain needs to send a command down the spinal cord to cause muscles to contract after his brain senses the need to pick up the chess piece. Again, the process is complicated.

I will revisit this process later, but for now, just understand that the human body contains sensory organs that detect movement. When these sensory organs are turned on, they send input to the brain.  The brain then responds and produces an output through the spinal cord to every tissue, cell, and organ in the body. When the output reaches your arm, your arm muscles contract and move. Just like the sensory organs in the body that detect movement, we have them for vision, skin and other specialized functions as well. When the signals are not very clear, it is kind of like watching TV, and a rain cloud gets in the way of the satellite, so you miss the game’s touchdown. boy, I hate that!

What makes controlling movement so involved, is the quality of the sensory feedback. When that rain cloud messes with the TV reception, we call that picture “extremely noisy.” The waves on the TV make the picture “noisy,” and I do not mean sound. Science uses this term in the engineering and the neuroscience sense, meaning a random noise is corrupting a signal or a distortion.

Therefore, in this case, something in the body is corrupting that signal. Allow me to illustrate another example. Try taking your right hand and place it on a table, while you put the left hand under the table, trying to localize or connect your hands together without the ability to see through the table top. More than likely, you would be off by several centimeters. Similar to looking at a pencil stuck in a glass of water, it looks bent due to the noise in sensory feedback; this would be referred to as refraction in the pencil’s case. Another interesting example is aiming at a basketball hoop or a dart board.

Trying to hit the bull’s eye over and over requires the use of sensory feedback. The movement output each time you try to point toward the basket is extremely “noisy.” The variability with each shot attempted is an example of something they call movement variability. In fact, this type of movement is both variable and ambiguous. Variable and ambiguous movement means the glass could be full or empty; it changes over time.  Therefore our bodies’ signals perform like an orchestra, working on a whole sensory movement task with many different instruments out of tune, causing an imperfection of the music, an array of defects or noise.

See science can be so easy guys.  We just need to take the Latin out of it, it’s a dead language.  Your getting this….

So back to our story, The brain also goes through a lot of effort to reduce the negative consequences of this sort of noise and variability. To do that, Dr. Wolpert uses a framework which is very popular in statistics and machine learning of the last fifty years, I know, don’t get lost here, its a big word, its called Bayesian decision theory.

Bayesian statistics is a framework for making technical conclusions about the underlying state of the world, based on observations and prior beliefs. The approach tries to infer causes from their observed effects and then assigns probabilities to each of them. So, it is a unifying way to think about how the brain deals with uncertainty. The fundamental idea is that you want to make evidence based conclusions and then take actions.

Starting with  a conclusion reached by evidence and reasoning, you want to generate beliefs about the world. One example could be the belief of a kind of animal one is looking at. Keep in mind that using our model, we are going to represent beliefs with probabilities. We could represent a belief with a number system wherein probability exists as a percentage between between zero and one — zero meaning I do not believe it at all; one means I am certain. And The figures in between give you the gray levels of uncertainty. Okay, hang in guys, let me get through this geeky stuff, there is a reason and a method of this madness in taking through Bayesian theory, I promise.

The key to Bayesian reasoning is that you have two sources of information from which to make your conclusion. You have data, and data in neuroscience is sensory input. Therefore, we have sensory input, which we can take in to generate beliefs. Of course, there is another source of information- prior knowledge. You accumulate knowledge throughout your life in memories. Bayesian decision theory gives scientists the mathematics of the optimal way to combine your prior knowledge with your sensory evidence, so as to generate new beliefs.

Neuroscience has a formula for this. It has real explanatory power, measuring the probability of different beliefs given your sensory input. Dr. Wolpert illustrates an intuitive example. “Imagine you are learning to play tennis, and you want to decide where the ball is going to bounce as it comes over the net towards you.”2 There are two sources of information Bayes’ rule tells you. There is sensory evidence- visual information and auditory information; that might show you a general area where it is going to land. We could mark that spot red. But, you know that your senses are not perfect, and therefore there is some variability of where it is going to land, represented by making that red spot into more of a fuzzy cloud. If we were to plot this variability on a graph, we would represent it with numbers between 0.1 and maybe 0.5.

When we learn new movement skills, the task is similar to Bayesian rule. Therefore, neuroscientists tell us that brains are similar to Bayesian reasoning machines. As we learn about things, we learn about statistics of the world; our brains process it, but we also learn about how noisy our sensory apparatus is, and so our brain combines those in a real Bayesian way. The brain does make predictions of the sensory feedback it is going to get, changing the perception by what you do.

In order to explain how it does that, we need to explore about how the brain deals with sensory input. When our brain sends a command out to the body, we get sensory feedback back to the brain; that transformation is governed by the physics of your body and your sensory apparatus. This, of course is very interesting to chiropractic.

So, Looking at the brain, sensory input is like shaking a ketchup bottle. If I were to shake a ketchup bottle, I get some true sensory feedback and time indicator. If I have a good predictor model, it would predict the same thing with every new bottle.

This is actually Dr. Wolpert’s example. He explains it this way, “Imagine, as I shake the ketchup bottle, someone very kindly comes up to me and taps it on the back for me. Now I get an extra source of sensory information due to that external act… I get two sources; you tapping on it, and I get me shaking it, but from my senses’ point of view, that is combined into one source of information”.  These modesls serve as perfect examples to how movement, especially our tiny movement of the spine generates, like a windmill the sensory information to the brain.

Now, I’m going to cover more of this stuff in future shows, I’m going to talk about the Lateral Line System present in over 30,000 species in the underwater world, the oceans, lakes and rivers and how those sensory organs tie in movement of the fish swimming, and the movement of the water current; how that hits the Lateral line system and generates nerve impulse to the brain and cns.  Im going to explain, that how that is true for the underwater world, it’s also true for the terrain world, but most especially for human beings.  It turns out, humans geneticaly require around 8 – 10 miles of walking which generates spinal movement, or the windmills of our spine that generates nerve impulse, input to our brain, output to every tissue, cell and organ in the body.

Were gonna get into it soon, but for now, just know that The neural simulator linkage between brain and movement is carried by evidence from the sea squirt to human beings. There is a clear association; the more a species needs to move, the bigger its brain must be.  This relationship is particularly pronounced in mammals.

It also goes in reverse, such that if the koala bears wanted to retain the larger brain that evolution gave them, they also needed to move.  The koula bear has a super small brain in its huge head, because it lives in 1 tree, sleeps 20 hours a day and hardly moves at all.   In contrast to humans, the human brain has shrunk when compared to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Koala bears and humans need to move if we want to expand our brains and species.


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