More Llinas

More Llinas


Another part of the interview with Llinas is about the primacy of movement. (Encephalon 57 on Mind Hacks has a link to a video interview of Rodolfo Llinas (video)).


“If you look at biology in general, you find that suddenly in evolution, something very interesting happens which is macroscopic animals appeared. And what I mean by that is that a whole bunch of cells that had lived for almost 3 billion years as individuals suddenly came together to form an entity that is larger than any one of them….OK so then you have a set of cells and this set of cells can solve the problem of existing in two very basic ways. One … solves this problem by the universe coming to you; you cannot go to the universe. Those particular entities require no nervous system and have no nervous system – plants don’t have a nervous system. The other solution is to move actively, to be able to displace yourself. Now in order to survive the dynamics of moving, you have to have some idea of where you are moving to. Now the advantages to moving are huge because you can run away from danger. This is non-trivial. … The problem with motricity, with the ability to move, is that you have to have three important properties. First you have to have the ability to move, to be able to displace yourself. Secondly, you’re going to have to have some prediction of where you’re moving, so you need a sensory system that tells you…And the third one, and the most profound, is called intentionality. To decide. If you have the ability to move and you have the ability to predict but you don’t have the desire to move, you don’t.”

“If you are going to move actively, you need a brain. Now the opposite is also the case. Any animal that moves, however primitive, has a nervous system, and as you know it happened almost as an explosion, in an explosive way, a lot of different types of animals appeared with a lot of different types of nervous systems. And by the way when you look at neurons, they’re almost exactly the same regardless what animal you are. Part of the tissue becomes the nervous system that generates motricity by activating muscles, has motricity pattern so you can go forwards or backwards or whatever and has a desire to move intentionality. That is present in all of them….Now because it is so closely related to prediction and so closely related to intentionality then we make an impossible statement and say, you know what, thinking may be nothing else by internalized movement…What it (the brain) does is generate pre-motor acts, inside it generates pre-motor events, all that we can do as human beings with our brain is activation of motor neurons, that is the only output.”


So I would assume that Llinas would not be surprised that our thinking, words and concepts are so often based on a movement metaphor. He is going further than just metaphor.

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