Movement is life!
Rodolfo Llinás, a distinguished neurophysiologist at the New York University School of Medicine, believes that such "automatic" motor acts, which we can perform but not explain, teach lessons to be taken very seriously. He calls the movements fixed—action patterns (FAPs), and he argues that they are where thinking and consciousness began. Active movement—what Llinás calls motricity—is the very source and main stem of mental life. "That which we call thinking is the evolutionary internalization of movement." Only organisms that move have brains, Llinás points out. A tree has no need of a central nervous system because it's not going anywhere, but an animal on the prowl needs to see where it's headed and needs to predict—perhaps even envision—its future place in the world. The poster—child organism for this close connection between motricity and mentality is the sea squirt. This marine creature starts life as a motile larva, equipped with a rudimentary brainlike ganglion of about 300 neurons. But after a day or two of cavorting in the shallows, the larva finds a hospitable site on the bottom and puts down roots. As a sessile organism, it has no further use for a brain, and so it eats it! (Llinás resists the urge to give the punchline that always follows when this story is told to an academic audience: "It's a lot like getting tenure.") with @niquely_chique