Brain Areas Controlling Movement
1. Human infants are at first limited to gross movements of the trunk, arms, and legs. The ability to move one finger independently of the other matures over time. Consider the different abilities described in this chapter (judging intentions) and those of which they are personally aware (walking). What hypothesis would you suggest about which brain areas controlling movement mature early and which mature later?
2. You have been hired as a consultant to a group of new coaches. You are to explain muscle action to them in a way that they can use it to assist the athletes they are coaching. One group of coaches works with figure skaters, a second group works with baseball pitchers, and the third group is training athletes for the cross-country team. Describe the types of activities that you would expect to be important in each of the athletic events described. Indicate what type of muscle activity would be needed, as well as the type of activity that you would recommend in training.
3.In 1945, Lloyd Olsen was sent by his wife to decapitate a chicken for the evening meal. Lloyd removed the chicken’s head; however, the bird did not die. In fact, it moved around as if pecking for food and that night slept as though it had tucked its head under its wing.
Lloyd was so impressed with the bird’s survival that a week later, he took him to the University of Utah for investigation. The scientists discovered that the ax blade has failed to sever the jugular vein. This failure along with a blood clot prevented the bird from bleeding to death.
In addition, the head had been separated from the body while most of the brain stem was left behind. Because much of a chicken’s behavior is controlled by reflexive actions connected to the brain stem, the bird was able to continue functioning in a fairly normal fashion.
Lloyd provided food and water to the chicken with an eyedropper, and the bird lived for 18 months. During this time, the chicken enjoyed a tour across the United States, recognition in national magazines, and a Guinness World Record. He is still celebrated annually at the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita, Colorado. (Search “Mike the Headless Chicken” to access numerous websites and a YouTube video!)
After sharing this story with students, ask them: Why can a chicken continue to walk with its head cut off and a human being cannot?