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Visual Supports & Beyond Forums • View topic - Prehistoric Autopsy

Prehistoric Autopsy

Because it doesn't all have to be work!
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Prehistoric Autopsy

Postby Kirk Anderson » Wed 24 Oct, 2012 9:04 pm

I've been watching Prehistoric Autopsy on BBC 2 for the past two nights, and will more than likely watch it again tonight. It's the sort of thing I love, but last night's episode triggered one of those there's an autism link there moments I sometimes have when watching or reading something completely unrelated to autism.

If you watched it, it was the bit about the evolution of the inner ear. If you didn't watch it, it's still on iPlayer here - and the ear bit is about 14.5 minutes in.

They did a little exercise (which I'll probably pinch for my talks) where they got a presenter to try an read a piece of paper that was moving quickly from side to side. He couldn't. He then held the paper still and moved his head quickly from side to side. This time he could read it. Apparently, our sense of balance (vestibular sense) synchronises with our eyes so that we can focus on a target even when we're moving. This ability first evolved in our (amusingly named) ancestors Homo Erectus about 2 million years ago, so that they could track an object while running across the African plains.

This is what got me thinking. What if the vestibular sense is playing up? Does that affect the synchronisation? My guess is that the answer is yes it does sometimes. So what is it like? Again I'm guessing, but the last time my vestibular sense was out of synch with my eyes, it was because I was reading while in the passenger seat of a car, and it made be feel sick. If we think about the function of this synchronisation, it's to allow us to see something clearly, to focus on it, while walking or running. So maybe we have people who struggle to move through their environment safely because they can't see it clearly while moving.

Definitely food for thought, for me it's another little lesson in an unexpected place. Anyway, tonight's episode it about to start.
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