Chapter

Handbook of Phenomenology and Cognitive Science

pp 655-670

Date:

Agency with Impairments of Movement

  • Jonathan ColeAffiliated withClinical Neurophysiology, Poole Hospital

Abstract

When in 1833 Sir Charles Bell (1833) first described movement and position sense (which Sherrington was to term proprioception 60 or so years later), he immediately also saw that often we do not attend to movement.

‘… we use our limbs without being conscious, or at least, without any conception of the thousand parts which must conform to a single act … we stand by so fine an exercise of this power, and the muscles are, from habit, directed with so much precision and with an effort so slight, that we do not know how he stand. But if we attempt to walk on a narrow ledge, or stand in a situation where we are in danger of falling we become subject to apprehension; the actions of the muscles are magnified and demonstrative to the degree in which they are excited.’ Bell 1833 (italics added.)

He was aware that even similar actions can sometimes be automatic and sometimes attended to. The effects of removal of these senses of movement and position sense and of touch were investigated in 1895 by Sherrington and Mott. This was possible by sectioning the dorsal, sensory, roots of a series of monkeys.