Depiction of the neuroscientific principles of human motion 2 millennia ago by Lucretius

Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Neurology (Impact Factor: 8.29). 09/2011; 77(10):1000-4. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31822cfa34
Source: PubMed


Titus Lucretius Carus was an ancient Roman philosopher of the Epicurean school whose epic poem On the Nature of Things described numerous aspects of the natural world. In fact, much contemporary scientific understanding is consistent with or inspired by his work. Among Lucretius's contributions to neurology were his descriptions of epileptic seizures, sleep, and his theory of vision. This report identifies how Lucretius's description of human motion recognized the fundamental principles understood by contemporary neurologists and neuroscientists, namely the importance of the mind and intelligence in determining whether to move, in the initiation of motion and its effect on the rest of the body; the importance of mental imagery and perception of the motor task's nature and workload in addition to the necessary systemic changes occurring in parallel with the muscle activity. Lucretius was the first commentator to introduce into Epicurean poetry the concept of such a mechanism consisting of a logical order of processes which are still consistent with modern concepts.

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