Zach is the second contributor in our series of folks that only one of us knows before their participation in Pando. Zach is working in a lab and studying brain science at the University of Minnesota. We are very excited about his infusion of a scientific approach into our work as creative experimenters.
I study epilepsy, the core symptom of which is seizures. Sometimes seizures take over the entire body, sometimes only the mind, and sometimes they’re restrained to small backwaters of the brain. My current project studies how seizures generated in the hippocampus, a brain area needed for new long-term memories and mental maps, can be stopped by activity in the cerebellum, a structure canonically involved in motor movement. The interaction between the cerebellum and the hippocampus is revealing new roles for motor systems in cognitive functioning. The body’s ability to keep track of each part of itself is more crucial to abstract mental processes than we previously thought.
I want Pando to highlight the unconscious contribution of the body’s knowledge of itself. Create a series of three pieces that explore the theme of embodied knowledge: one piece created normally, one piece created without vestibular (balance) feedback, and one piece created without proprioceptive (limb awareness) feedback.
There are different ways to achieve this but here are some suggestions from a neuroscientist: the vestibular system is thrown off by prolonged rotational movement – so spin yourself silly, then create. You may need to spin multiple times. Proprioceptive feedback is built into your muscles and trickier to circumvent. Alcohol interferes with this system at the neurological level (think closing your eyes and touching your nose), so medicate then create. Alternatively, non-dominant limbs (feet or off-hand) have less refined proprioceptive feedback, so that works as well.