Book Review: Reflections on research into the functioning of the nervous system

Elements from György Buzsáki, The Brain from Inside Out and Perspectives for the Feldenkrais Method

By Stéphanie Ménasé

Stephanie Ménasé, Ph.D. is familiar with the Feldenkrais Method since the early 1990’s. She finished her Feldenkrais training in Paris in 2012 with Myriam and Sabine Pfeffer. She has been a member of the IFF RWG Data Base task group since January 2021.

Read more about her biography at the end of the article.

Interested in what I do not yet know, and curious to understand, or at least to try to understand, what I do not yet understand well, I immersed myself in György Buzsáki’s The Brain from Inside Out, Oxford University Press, 2019, 441 p[1]. The book’s underlying question is how are learning human beings capable of improvement, in the sense of an evolutionary perspective of individual and species development. It consists of 14 parts, a reference list of more than 50 pages[2], and a remarkably detailed 24-page index allowing for an alternative circulation between chapters.

In spite of my academic background (doctorate in philosophy) and the research I have carried out, Buzsáki’s book goes far beyond my field of knowledge. However, the spirit that animates it and the elements that I was able to gather from it remind me very directly of what we are training and promoting through the practice of Feldenkrais, and often furthermore sheds light on the mechanisms operating in our strategies and approaches. Buzsáki’s description of the conditions of learning and the emergence of human understanding was precisely what Feldenkrais investigated through his research and development of what we know as the “Feldenkrais Method”.

Contextualisation and convergence
We only have partial knowledge of Moshe Feldenkrais’ readings and what enriched his understanding of the complex system that is the human being. We only know that his contact with scientists from a wide range of disciplines and his interest in scientific work also fueled his thinking, and underpinned the growing depth of the discipline he was developing whose components and strategies he shared and transmitted. Among the early publications (books and articles) cited by Buzsáki, there are many subjects either mentioned or evoked by Feldenkrais which are part of his work.
To mention only a few elements, I am thinking of the discoveries on the mapping of the nervous system, in the introduction to the Esalen’s training (1972), in which Feldenkrais refers to the work of E.C. Tolman “Cognitive Maps in Rats and Men[3]” and to those “Head-direction cells”; or the allusions to the work of J. O’Keefe (et al.)[4] that lead to the distinction of the “place cells”. We know of Feldenkrais’ interest in research on the organization of head direction, and of the importance of this parameter for orientation in physical space as well as for mental navigation[5]. We can also mention the reference to Richard Held and “others scientists” in the presentation of his experiments, as well as those experiments of Helmholtz that Feldenkrais gives on the occasion of the lesson AY 380: “Pillows and Swings”, where he mentions an experiment without name and also R. Held’s paper “Plasticity in sensory-motor system” (1965) about the “mechanism of ‘feedback loops’ to maintain and develop orientation in advanced Mammals”[6]. Interestingly, Buzsáki also mentions R. Held, referring to works on vision which were precursors of Hubel and Wiesel’s discovery of responses of single cell cortical neurons to light stimuli on the retina. In this lecture, Moshe Feldenkrais first shows his interest in the history of this problem when he evokes an experiment that is anterior to the one conducted by Held. He asks the question: Where in the brain is the coordination which would allow someone to modify the sensor such that the sight, in that case, adapts to a pair of glasses? Where does this coordination, this adjustment takes place[7]? As we understand, such coordination is necessary to reach a glass of water and for other, much more complex action. Poincaré, quoted often by Feldenkrais, and also found as a reference for Buzsáki, wrote in 1905: “To locate an object means simply to imagine the movements that would be necessary to reach it[8]“. We could point out convergences between Feldenkrais and Buzsáki very systematically.
The first idea that attracted me to the study of György Buzsáki’s work was this formulation: “cognition emerges from action[9]”. This modality was very familiar to me and described quite exactly what I had experienced in various fields, and with the Feldenkrais Method in particular.
Of course, the action he was talking about required clarification. In other work I had studied the processes of emergence, but not at all on the neurological level. The conditions of possibility for learning (and of cognition) remained largely unknown to me on that particular issue. By reading György Buzsáki, I can say that I have identified internal pathways and processes of extraordinary complexity that are still very hermetic in view of my current knowledge and of the understanding that I have begun to develop thanks to him.

How does cognition form?
György Buzsáki’s work revolves around an action-centred brain, and it remains essential for him that we hear and understand that “no meaning or advantage emerges for the brain without the ability to calibrate neural patterns by behavior-induced consequences.[10]” Thus, there is no perception or cognition if we do not produce elements or outputs to “move and optimize the sensors, and calibrate brain circuits at some point in our lives.” Furthermore, the only way for sensations to become relevant and to be transformed into experience is to link them to the body and its movements[11]. The massive question, then, is how to understand that a meaning is born from motricity, and subsequently from the effect of these actions on the world and on the internal modifications they produce or lead to? That is precisely what G. Buzsáki’s work proposes to explain in detail and in all its complexity. Thus we can read: “Once a brain pattern acquires meaning (i.e., it has been calibrated through action), it remains meaningful as long as memory is intact, without further action.[12]” In short, once it [the meaning] is inscribed and operating, there is no need to reconstruct it each time; it is acquired and potentially available. One of the neurological inscriptions or the development of the [brain pattern] that fascinated me the most was that of the spontaneous kick that the foetus gives in the constrained space of the uterus[13]. This results in the firing of numerous neurons – like jumping popcorn, as the author describes – and could provide the first neurological mapping, a proto-map, of the skeletal structure as a whole at the level of the system, from which the kinaesthetic sense, for example, can later be anchored, developed, refined and used as a “reading grid”, a “matrix”, a “parameter”, a “base” for learning of various kinds.
This work offers us an exceptional quantity of elements ranging from terminology to structure, without neglecting the processes in their sophistication and their dynamics. Also interesting are the questions that certain points raise and the hypotheses formulated, and sometimes the discussions that surround them, in an attempt to complete or approach as closely as possible an understanding of the most complex system: human functioning.
In addition to the difficulty of the material itself and the way to get access to it, there are also aspects of functioning such as emotion that remain irreducible to a modelizable form. And undoubtedly, emotion does not allow human functioning to be reduced or even associated with that of a machine, even an arch-complex machine. Could emotion emerge at the neurological level? It is possible that it arises from the combination of the capacity, gradually, to refer an internal sense (part of it is an egocentric spatialisation which becomes more precise in comparison with allocentric spatialisation) to other manifestations and other mechanisms (e.g. the role of mirror neurons) or with those of great neuronal activity – differentiation and dedifferentiation[14], or of reversibility of paths – that take place during sleep. And all of this combines into these different phases or transitional states, to the inscription of other capacities and chemical internal processes (dopamine, endomorphin, etc.). Referring to sleep, Buzsáki speaks of disengagement, as does Feldenkrais[15]. All brain mechanisms are strongly intertwined.
Sensation and perception, for example, are not interchangeable for Buzsáki. He distinguishes sensation as the instantaneous feeling that the receptors are being solicited (stimulated), from perception which compares the sensation with memories of similar experiences in order to identify the stimulus that evokes it. Similarly, he notes that while “action” and “motor production” (or movement) belong to the same general category, “action” is a more general term than “motor”. To support this nuance, he points out that while the brain’s productions can not only affect skeletal muscles, they can also exert autonomous effects such as altering the heartbeat and controlling endocrine function (such as milk production), and can hardly be called ‘motor production’ or ‘movement’ at all. Moreover, thought and imagination are actions for G. Buzsáki[16], as they are for Feldenkrais, and not the result of the synthesis of sensory elements. G. Buzsáki shows that thoughts are actions in that they are an externalisation of mental operations[17]. He identifies four major categories of brain outputs that “come in various flavors”: thought is the fourth of these major categories[18]. He adds: “A thought, which can be conceptualized as a buffer for a deferred action […], is useful only when it benefits the brain’s owner[19].”
We can see that he undertakes a complete reformation which comes close to what Moshe Feldenkrais eventually expressed and implemented.

Reforming the discipline and its strategy
For György Buzsáki, an essential goal of neuroscience and of his book The Brain from Inside Out would be to identify, to clarify, the principles of the organization of neuronal circuits. One of his leitmotivs is that “the current conceptual framework of neuroscience in its great majority” is not going in the right direction.
The thesis he defends in this book can be stated: “The brain is a self-organised system with preexisting connectivity and dynamics whose main job is to generate actions and to examine and predict the consequences of those actions[20]”; this is what he means by the ‘from inside-out’ strategy. In doing so, he departs from the prevailing view in neuroscience which suggests that the brain’s task is to “perceive and represent the world, process information, and decide how to respond to it in an ‘outside-in’ manner[21]”.
His working hypothesis emphasizes the consideration of self-organization[22], namely the self-organising rhythms that the brain generates at the level of brain networks. These self-organising rhythms serve cognitive functions, as well as conditioning and segmentation of neural information[23]. “Overall, learning with neurons involves a synthesis of preexisting neuronal events, which only modestly and transiently affects network dynamics. In each learning episode, a small number of the many possible preexisting neuronal trajectories acquire behavioral meaning and thus start to represent a particular constellation of relationships[24].” Buzsáki states: “The same process probably applies when neural trajectories are mapped onto events and situations. This view echoes the idea that perception is an examination of hypotheses about the brain[25].”
Furthermore, on the basis of processes derived from optimising the wiring of neural circuits, he has also demonstrated – the brain not being a passive device that unconditionally associates signals – that the relationship between an action performed by the agent and a situation without the subject’s participation is not as durably integrated into the person’s possible functional schema[26]. “The matching [process][27] is the brain’s attempt to pull out the best-fitting the neuronal trajectory in any situation from its preformed vast reservoir and to refine it only in case of mismatch[28].” Pre-formed obviously does not mean “fixed.” It would rather mean “available” or “already encoded.” The brain proceeds by comparison, calibration, and computation, underpinned or translated into numerous mechanisms – such as gain control, corollary discharge, disengagement, etc. – and it cannot process without action.

The Feldenkrais Method and scientific research
With this book, it is as if we were given the tools to expose the reality of the Feldenkrais Method. It allows us to articulate the mechanisms at play in the Method, which is a very different approach from studies that seek to evaluate it.
Briefly, here is an example of a line of inquiry generated by this reading and my own repertoire of knowledge. Buzsáki mentions the Myosin[29] protein that determines the speed of muscle contraction in vertebrates and notes that skeletal muscles are much slower than facial muscles. I am reminded of the lessons in which Feldenkrais invites us to coordinate the movement of spreading the legs in the air widely while lying supine (e.g. AY 343), with the movement of the lips – slow speed mobilisation of the corners of the mouth towards the ears. By this movement of the lips towards a soft smile, is Feldenkrais inviting the neurological system and the chemical component to react, to be triggered differently, to favour a subtle way of lengthening the skeletal muscles by favouring a different internal dynamic: with slowness and from small progressive movements that have been matched to the rhythm of the movement of the mouth, itself also slowed down? It would be interesting if a laboratory like G. Buzsáki’s could look into this type of strategy, which uses action to help this re-organisation or modification of patterns to emerge by sending other signals to the system through this combination. As we know, Feldenkrais created conditions for self-organisation but he did not leave much to chance in the conception /composition of the lessons. And it is very likely that Feldenkrais was aware of the work of Albert Szent-Györgyi[30], for example, when he designed these combinations. Thus, this progressive smile, far from being a whim of Feldenkrais’ to associate this movement with softness and pleasure – although this too could have a corollary impact – most certainly alters the mode of activation of myosin production or release and possibly alters the modalities of movement in other skeletal muscles.

The conceptual and strategic state of the neurosciences
G. Buzsáki’s book is rich not only conceptually, theoretically and scientifically, but also historically[31] and humanistically[32].
Buzsáki reminds us at several points that neuroscience is still in its infancy. The term neuroscientist appeared in 1969 at the time of the creation of the Society for Neuroscience (USA). Even though the equipment and technological means (whose differences and characteristics he describes) and the understanding of the brain have made extraordinary advances since its inception, it seems necessary, according to this professor[33] a man and recognised scholar in the discipline, to review and re-examine the concepts, methodology, logic, and uses of technological means and the reliability of the technologies in view of the speed of the human nervous system, which is incommensurable with that of the most precise recording devices and techniques. Perhaps most importantly, he emphasises that much of the discipline of neuroscience is still searching and trying to identify the relevant issues.
Furthermore, with the development of knowledge about neurological functioning, and of discoveries and refined understandings of the nervous system, it also appears that new terminologies are needed[34]. For example, I was interested in the semantic shift of concepts and what they convey: e.g. we no longer speak of “nerve impulses” but of “action potential (AP)” or “spikes.” G. Buzsáki does not speak of “sensory receptors” but of “sensory analyzers”; he does not say “motor reactions” but “motor effectors”. Even, the very idea of stimuli is complex: it still induces a model of something that from the outside comes to “influence” or imprint itself on the system, when inputs from the environment and from the corporeality reach the brain through the sensory interfaces. Often we refer to these inputs as stimuli or signals, but both terms imply a meaningful relationship between events exogenous to the brain and the responses the brain makes to them: “the term ‘stimulus’ means that it exerts some change in brain activity because it must stimulate it[35]”. Should we then speak of ‘signal’? “The term ‘signal’ implies that the brain regards its change in response to the stimulus as important because it signals something useful to it.” So both stimulus and signal involve a relationship between the external world and brain activity. But it would be necessary to understand how this relationship is possible. In the absence of its relationship to the body and the world, this model for G. Buzsáki implies that these elements do not exist from the brain’s point of view. Understanding the sophisticated mechanisms of the brain requires this reader/observer-based approach.
Similarly, for Buzsáki, the term ‘somatosensory’ cortex is a misnomer, as the cortex not only senses but also simulates the body[36].
These paradigm shifts say a lot about the evolution of this science, its complexity and the precision it requires.

Outputs on the understanding of Feldenkrais’ views
Considering this material from G. Buzsáki’s book, I think it is important to re-read some of Feldenkrais’s statements, e.g. his talk on “The body image[37]” (AY 24), where he explains his understanding of neural functioning and mechanisms in relation to our capacity for action: “There is a functional body image in action” (ibid. p. 145), that it is written as “one of the body images” with the “ordinary” use of oneself, the physiological and the link to the motor cortex for simple mobility, but yet not enough for something like writing or drawing. Also there is the emotional image: psychic, spiritual body images developed in relation to our experiences and to the experience of the environment. “In a complete system [or a dynamic system], that is balanced and developed, there is a realistic relationship among those three images – the image that you see, the emotional image, and the image externally developed from the ‘feelings’ [all words in ‘’ are from my emphasis] of the body. All three have a relationship. If someone walks without ‘knowing’ the length of his arms or the distance from the arm to an object, he would get hit each time he walked through a door […]. When I pass a door […], I have a ‘feeling’ for the distance. When I want to move from here to another point I have a ‘feeling’ of the length of my arm. I ‘feel’ where it is and what it is. I have a kinesthesic ‘feeling’”. The more the image is accurate, the more it is developed or congruent with its full function, the more it matches, “the more ‘control’ a person has of his body with better accuracy in the movements” (AY 24, p. 147)[38].
It would be interesting to look at the wording in Hebrew. In fact there may be just a few elements that make the description different from what G. Buzsáki explains: “knowing ” could be more ‘the sense of’, or “the avaibility of” because it is not properly a cognitive or conscious dimension, but much more an experiential or integrative dimension of oneself in space; about the distance and the self-experience; “feeling” could and would be more relevant if it were “a sense of”, “an estimation”, “an internal measurement”, ‘integration of relation between the border, the limitation and my own extension”; and kinesthesis is neither a ‘feeling’ but a “sense of”, an integrative egocentric map which allows me to direct myself in self-preservation. “Feeling” is a reflected perception.

Correlated perspectives
Remarkable discoveries are made every day in the field of neuroscience, but in the opinion of G. Buzsáki, a lot of literature and contributions lead us astray because of their lack of rigour in researching the presuppositions or the strategy employed.
He invites us to reform our modes of analysis, our approaches, and our vocabulary. However, by using the terms “inside”/”outside”, does he not himself remain a prisoner of these paradigms that he is putting under discussion?
G. Buzsáki is not tempted to build a model of the human brain or to turn to the developments of artificial intelligence. His focus is on understanding the general principles of brain function in order to help understand cases of dysfunction and disorganization and to find ways to reverse the disturbance or to promote the recalibration of the parameters of self-organization.
In view of the many topics in this book, which I believe are so relevant to articulating the Feldenkrais Method in a different way, my hypothesis is that the sometimes low insight of the reading about the Feldenkrais Method and especially the mediocrity of its recognition in relation to its scope is perhaps mainly or solely linked to the lack of knowledge we have of its scientific roots, which, if exhumed, would give it more validity in the eyes of researchers from several disciplines. This may also be linked to the strategic error that Buzsáki denounces, a strategy that he calls “outside-in,” one that uses concepts, theories and protocols whose validity is often unproven or not adapted to the object being studied. G. Buzsáki analyses how undefined and inherited terminology, which is very rarely questioned by neuroscientists, has become an obstacle to progress in the field of neuronal mechanisms. This conceptual confusion is perhaps another reason why the Feldenkrais Method is still poorly understood and why most of the related scientific studies do not account for the reasons for its effectiveness, looking only at the effects, not at the significance of the strategies in the long term, nor its relevance in relation to the dysfunctions of the human brain and its potential to help the individual to recover or develop more favourable functioning in relation to self-preservation and self-regulation.

My hypothesis is that as the understanding of the workings of the complex human nervous system develops, so will the recognition of the depth and scope of Feldenkrais’s work[39].

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Notes

[1] Buzsáki, György, ISBN 9780190905385,
[2] The bibliography includes the contributions of his predecessors, his contemporaries and also other fields than neuroscience, in particular numerous references to philosophers and scientists from related fields linked to works on the human being. Indeed, it is easy to understand: deepening our understanding of how the human being functions cannot be limited to the study of a cerebral mechanism.
[3] Psychology review, n°55, 1948, pp. 189-208.
[4] J.O’Keefe and J. Dostrovsky, “The Hippocampus as a spatial map. Preliminary evidence from unit activity in the freely-moving rat”, Brain Res, vol. 34, 1971, pp. 171-175.
[5] On this matter, one can also think of the pages of Mark Reese, in the biography, Moshe Feldenkrais. A life in movement, vol. 1, Ed. ReeseKress Somatics Press, 2015, pp. 61-70 where he discusses Feldenkrais’ training and work as a cartographer and the strategies he developed to foster the abilities related to the orientation of oneself in space and the abstraction skills they contain and reinforce (integration of the multidimensional aspects of our actions).
[6] Scientific American, vol. 213, n°5, pp. 84-94.
[7] Moshe Feldenkrais, AY380, p. 2599, transl. from hebrew by J. Krauss, ed. E. Solloway.
[8] R. Poincaré, La Valeur de la science, Paris, Flammarion, 1905, p. 47.
[9] Six lectures by Professor György Buzsáki invited to the Collège de France (Paris) between May and June 2019, by Professor Alain Prochiantz. https://www.college-de-france.fr/site/alain-prochiantz/guestlecturer-2019-05-27-16h00.htm and following.
[10] GB, op.cit., p. 22.
[11] Ibid., p. 22 n.46.
[12] Ibid., p. 22 n.47. See chap. 5 “Internalization of Experience: Cognition from Action” and chap. 8 “Internally Organized Activity During Offline Brain States”.
[13] GB, op.cit., pp. 77-78.
[14] Merleau-Ponty’s terminology, in “Le Problème de la passivité: le sommeil, l’inconscient, la mémoire”, Cours au Collège de France (1954-1955), ed. Stéphanie Ménasé, Paris, Belin, 2003 ; transl. in Engl. Institution and Passivity: Course Notes From the Collège de France (1954-1955), Northwestern UP, 2010.
[15] Talk given at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord (Paris in 1978, for Peter Brook’s company) following to lessons still unpublished.
[16] Cf. GB, op. cit., chap. 5 and chap. 9 “Enhancing Brain Performance by Externalizing Thought”.
As reminded by Hillel Braude in his resent contribution to IFF research newsletter : « the whole nervous system participates in every act, including mental acts – thoughts, cognitions, memories, etc. »,  The Feldenkrais Method as Practical Physiological Psychology – IFF Research Network (feldsci.net)
[17] GB, op. cit., p. 222.
[18] “The first one that comes to mind is muscular action to move the body and its sensors. A second output acts via the autonomic nervous system to affect our internal organs and glands. A third output is the release of hormones from the pituitary gland to affect growth, blood pressure, sexual hormones, thyroid hormones, metabolism, temperature, childbirth, lactation, and water/salt concentration in the kidneys”, Ibidem.
[19] Ibidem.
[20] GB, op. cit., p. xiii.
[21] Ibidem.
[22] G. Buzsáki gives equivalents of this idea of self-organisation. Sometimes the recordings of this ever-changing wiring landscape are described by the term “spontaneous”; equivalent terms would be: endogenous, autogenous, autoctone, autopetic, autocatakinetic or self-assembled.
The term “self-organization” was introduced by the English psychiatrist W. Ross Asby, “Principles of the self-organizing dynamic system”, Journal of General Psychology, n° 37, 1947, pp. 125-128 doi.org/10.1080/00221309.1947.9918144. At the beginning of this article it is stated that: “there is much evidence that the [Nervous] System is both a strictly determinate physico-chemical system, and that it can undego ‘self-induced’ internal reorganisations resulting in changes of behaviour”. It is possible that Feldenkrais knew W. Ross Asby during his stay in London. In any case, Asby mentions K. Pribram who is known to have been close to Moshe Feldenkrais. It is not impossible that there are connections. Another article by Ashby (1962) on self-organisation, available online: http://csis.pace.edu/~marchese/CS396x/Computing/Ashby.pdf
[23] These brain rhythms, other rhythms and other non-rhythmic patterns “can be considered as ‘order parameters’ and are often recognised in local field potentials. These mesoscopic patterns are indicative of the clustering and segregation of transient cellular assemblies and their evolutionary sequences.” From all this complex discipline involving phenomenal knowledge, highly technical modes of experimentation and multiple levels of analysis, I draw the conclusion that in the order of the most complex functionings of the nervous system, the phenomena of cellular assembly or grouping are transient and evolutionary.
[24] GB, op. cit., p. 355.
[25] GB, op. cit., p. 355 et n.34, p. 355 où il renvoie à H. von Helmholtz, Treatise on Physiological Optics (ed. in German, 1866 ; french, 1867) ; english transl. 1962; Gregory, “Perceptions as hypotheses”, Philos Trans Royal Society, London, Biol Sci, vol. 290, 1980, pp. 181-197.
[26] For Feldenkrais, learning can only come from within, no one can understand or learn for someone; one can only share one’s knowledge if the person asks for it. Initiative is the key to the Feldenkrais notion of learning. Learning is based on and driven by our true experiences of optimal efficiency and personal satisfaction.
[27] Learning in the preconfigured brain model would be a matching process, in which pre-existing neural patterns, initially meaningless to the organism, would acquire meaning through experience.
[28] GB, op. cit., p. 355.
[29] “The contraction speed of vertebrate muscles is determined by the properties of myosin, a contractile protein that is largely preserved across all mammals independent of body size” (GB, op.cit., p. 58).
[30] “Myosin and muscular contraction”, Studies of Medical Chemestry University, Szeged, 1941ou ref. de GB, “Nature of contraction of muscle”, Nature, vol. 167, 1951, pp. 380-381.
[31] For example, we learn that brain oscillations (mesoscopic temporal structures) have been entirely preserved throughout the evolution of mammals and have limited the evolutionary and ontogenetic scale of brain structures, or that the designation of the waves of the nervous system by Greek letters does not reflect a hierarchy, but strictly the chronology of their identification in the course of history and experiments, and he gives details, GB, op.cit., p. 147.
[32] He wonders about the future of humanity, about the development of these discoveries and knowledge to understand and if possible overcome dysfunctions and disorganisations.
[33] He calls himself a “systems neuroscientist” and specifies that he is not an expert in “molecular issues”, “neuroimmunology”, “artificial intelligence”, and that his “knowledge of the numerous diseases of the nervous system is rudimentary”.
[34] Moreover, the high technicality of this language does not always have a simple equivalent from one language to another.
[35] GB, op. cit., p. 11.
[36] On this point he refers to the work of Michael Brecht, “The Body Model Theory of Somatosensory Cortex”, Neuron, vol. 94, 2017, pp. 985-992.
[37] Reference to Paul Schilder, one of the other important studies for Feldenkrais.
[38] Let’s recall that the skeletal architecture or organisation and the connection to this organisation is the basic element in the Feldenkrais Method experience.
[39] I thank Roger Russell for giving me the opportunity to present a draft of work to be continued, and also Adam Cole for his proofreading and suggestions on my English expression.
See Appendix : “Research Group”. A research group could be set up to bring together people who are willing to delve into this work.

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Appendix:
Research group
Continuing the study of György Buzsáki’s The Brain from Inside Out in relation to the work (lessons, books, lectures, articles) of Feldenkrais

I. The project could have several levels: composing articles for example on the formal model of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, with two levels of texts. One part (A) would be devoted to GB and his positions, which are of interest to us, and the other (B), in which convergences, incidences, and deviations with regard to the Feldenkrais Method would be highlighted and recorded.
To these two levels of text, we could add other levels: 
– a third level would be the reference notes; 
– a fourth level would present the opening towards other works that could enlighten the Feldenkrais Method; 
– a fifth would be to collect all the lessons that can be associated with certain aspects highlighted by the work of neuroscientists gleaned from reading his book and that we use in Feldenkrais. This would highlight the importance of the underlying elements in the Feldenkrais Method in relation to the elements identified in the work of scientists beyond GB’s book; 
– a sixth would be to consider how these elements and the complexity of the Method might serve the work of cognitive science; 
– a seventh would be to list all the possible references in Feldenkrais’s intellectual journey that contributed to his understanding or to the support of certain intuitions and experiences he had made (by himself, on himself and by working with others, in a continuous and attentive dialogue);
– an eighth would be an index of all references to scientific works in the corpus as a whole and/or to support by references within that corpus possible knowledge against which he himself would have developed or combined and composed/elaborated his exploratory processes.

II. In view of the convergence and resonance of these two scholars, we could, within a research team, pursue the study of Buzsaki’s contributions and the paths that he indicates are valuable for our discipline, and draw up types of studies that would seem to us to be relevant to carry out within the neuroscience laboratory, considering the strategies and concrete contributions that the Feldenkrais Method offers to refine or complete the functioning of the nervous system. By a feedback-loop phenomenon, this would allow the functioning itself to be clarified.
 Furthermore, the idea is to bring out the scientific references that contribute to the elaboration by Feldenkrais of the learning processes and favour the further development of each individual from his or her actuality – in principle and ideally as an expression of a continuous elaboration.

III. Editing all the lectures given by Feldenkrais with a critical apparatus
This would be a long-term research programme, but its progress could be accelerated if we were to begin by creating a database of all the scientific references mentioned by Feldenkrais, through collaborative work.

György Buzsáki is MD, Professor at New York University School of Medicine – Neuroscience Institute; Originally from Hungary, he studied medicine (M.D. in 1974) at the University of Pécs in Hungary, and obtained his Ph.D. in neuroscience under the supervision of Endre Grastyán (1924-1988), Professor of physiology. His main field is systems neuroscience, memory, sleep, and brain rhythms.
His laboratory in NYU:  https://buzsakilab.com/wp/
There he has a rich open access to his publications on https://buzsakilab.com/wp/publications/ as well as resource pages where you can find many elements and clues for your inquiries https://buzsakilab.com/wp/resources/ for exampleinhibition, sleep, complexity of the system.  Among his publications are the books: Rhythms of the Brain (Oxford University Press, 2006) and The Brain from Inside Out (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Stephanie Ménasé, Ph.D. is familiar with the Feldenkrais Method since the early 1990’s. She finished her Feldenkrais training in Paris in 2012 with Myriam and Sabine Pfeffer. She has been a member of the IFF RWG Data Base task group since January 2021. 
Her Feldenkrais related activities include : 
Writing, editing and publishing :

Corpus – bulletin of French practitioners from 2017 to 2020; including a special issue for the general public in open access;

The conference “La Méthode de Moshé Feldenkrais: Approche et perspectives de recherche en regard du développement humain [The Moshe Feldenkrais Method: Approach and Research Perspectives in Human Development. An annotated reading of Feldenkrais’ lecture, ‘Physics and my method’ (CERN, 1981)]”;

Membership in the Alexander Yanai study group since 2017;

Teaching in of the Daily Improvement Collective organised at the initiative of Kwan Wong;

She is part of the working group around the « Lesson Locator – Mind in motion »/ Larry Goldfarb 

For several years, she worked in a medical practice specialising in the rehabilitation of developmental language disorders 

Her academic work included research in philosophy 

  • PhD thesis on: “Passivité et Operant [Passivity and Operant/operative: an experience of being as creation]” – Sorbonne, Paris (1999).
  • Classified the Merleau-Ponty Manuscript Fund for the Bibliothèque nationale de France (1993-1998), and 
  • Edited several manuscripts of Merleau-Ponty, published articles in specialized reviews and participated in conferences. 
  • Author of a book Passivity and Creation, reflexion based on the manuscripts of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and 20th century art (2003) 

She has worked as a proofreader, lexicographer, scientific editor, for several publishing houses. 
Since 1987, she paints and exhibits her work ; frequent exhibitions at the Galerie L. Mauguin – Paris. 

Stéphanie Ménasé
stephanie.menase@free.fr
http://www.stephaniemenase.com/?page_id=390 

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Reflections on research into the functioning of the nervous system

  1. gallerand martine

    bonjour Mme Menazé, je m’intéresse à la méthode Feldenkrais et à la méthode Anat Baniel car je suis la mamie d’un jeune garçon de 4 ans et demi diagnostiqué TSA. C’est par hasard (mais je suis persuadée qu’il n’y a pas de hasard) que j’ai découvert le livre de Anat Baniel “Les 9 essentiels” qui fait référence à la méthode Feldenkrais. Et je suis persuadée que si les recherches continuent, les chercheurs découvriront bientôt le lien entre l’autisme et les dysfonctionnements des transmetteurs vers le cerveau. C’est mon grand espoir.

    Like

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