December Theme: Honor

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Blog design copyright © 2007-2010 by Steve Amoia. All rights reserved. The blog template was provided by Google Blogger.

"Everything begins in the mind. Create the intention and then apply the effort to receive the result."

"It is very easy to break a pencil in half. Breaking ten pencils in half is an altogether different matter."

--- Coach Ron Pfeiffer, 7th Degree Black Belt, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin USA

"Don't fear the person who has studied a thousand techniques one time. Fear the person who has studied one technique a thousand times."

--- Ed DellaCroce, 3rd Degree Black Belt and the North Carolina State Director for World Dragon Kenpo.

December Theme: Honor.

The Example of Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta

“I lost two dear friends of mine. I would give this back in a second to have my friends with me right now.”

Featured Video

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Brain and Bodily Movements by Steve Amoia

All anatomical images and quoted material are courtesy of The Brain From Top to Bottom.

Motor Cortex

"Motor" is an apt term for the part of our brains that controls bodily movements. The Motor Cortex, or Area 4 of the precentral gryus, was discovered by the American-Canadian neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield. During operations to assist patients with epileptic seizures, Dr. Penfield stimulated areas of the cortex with electricity to determine which areas could not be removed. This special type of brain surgery was called the "Montreal Procedure." When he stimulated the precentral gryus, he noted localized muscle contractions on the opposite side of the body. Hence, the right brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa. For example, when we suffer a stroke, only one side of the body is affected.

Map by Dr. Penfield

"The most striking aspect of this map is that the areas assigned to various body parts on the cortex are proportional not to their size, but rather to the complexity of the movements that they can perform. Hence, the areas for the hand and face are especially large compared with those for the rest of the body. "

What Happens When the Motor Cortex Becomes Injured?

"If someone's motor cortex is destroyed (by a stroke, for example), he or she loses the ability to make precise movements, especially of the hands and fingers. Learning of new movements is not strongly affected by damage to the cerebral cortex."

The Role of Dopamine in the Basal Ganglia

This part of the brain is often where movement disorders begin. It is also one of the areas of the brain with the least amount of scientific research with regards to its overall functions.

"People who have Parkinson's disease, characterized by trembling and by difficulty in initiating movements, show a deficiency of dopamine in their basal ganglia. Because these structures play an important role in determining various aspects of movement, their malfunctioning results in the motor problems associated with Parkinson's disease."

The Cerebellum

This area is similar to a thermostat. It regulates functions of movement and muscle memory in the brain. When we learn a technique in Dragon Kenpo or Tai Chi, the procedural memory is stored in the Cerebellum.

"The cerebellum also acts as a learning and memorizing machine, thanks to its modifiable neural connections that continuously compare everything they are programmed to do with the results that they are actually achieving...

The cerebellum therefore apparently learns how to calibrate its commands to the muscles in terms of strength and duration in order to correct in advance for the effects of these interactions along the path of motion."

Activation Sequence

There are three steps that occur to produce a voluntary movement:

1. Selection of an appropriate response.

2. Physically planning the movement.

3. Execution of the movement.

"For example, suppose that you go to pick up a glass of water that you think is cool and refreshing, but is actually boiling hot. As soon as you touch the glass, you pull your hand back immediately, by reflex, without thinking about it. But suppose that next, your child tries to grab this glass, which you already know is hot. In this case, because your child's safety is so important to you, you can consciously overcome the reflex to pull your hand away. Instead, using your voluntary motor control, you grab the glass yourself and put it where your child can't reach it."

Please Note

"The concept of "copyleft" is a method of providing free access to the results of original work and of encouraging people to reproduce and even modify this work on an equally free basis."

Due to this concept, World Dragon Kenpo was able to reproduce the detailed images, along with subject matter expert quotes, for this article. A debt of thanks to Bruno Dubuc and
The Brain From Top to Bottom.

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