Special Offer for Vitality Workshop with Anat this weekend – November 1-2!

Human Brain Minimizes Energy Expenditure And Integrates Gravity Into The Action Plan

ScienceDaily (Oct. 26, 2008) — When reaching for an object, the brain prepares neural commands sent to the target muscles to minimize energy expenditure, according to a study published in PLoS Computational Biology by neuroscientists and mathematicians from the INSERM and ENSTA.

How the human brain organizes and controls our actions is a crucial question in life sciences. In recent decades, an important theoretical advance has been the use of computational models and the assumption that the brain behaves like an optimal controller. In most studies, an optimality criterion is chosen a priori and assumed to produce smooth and harmonious movements, as those recorded experimentally. Most existing models, however, fail to explain how our interactions with the external environment are integrated into optimization processes.

In particular, gravity is one of the constraints that permanently act upon the movements of living organisms. The simple observation of vertical arm movements reveals that muscle activity when moving upwards differs from when moving downwards. This led the authors to surmise that the brain takes advantage of gravitational force during movement, trying to optimize energy consumption.

The discovery of this biological rule has resulted from the use of a hypothetical-deductive mathematical method which predicted short periods of muscle inactivation and direction-dependent hand kinematics. These predictions have been verified experimentally using human volunteers. Moreover, they have demonstrated a necessary and sufficient condition of optimal control for arm movements which is a novelty in motor control studies.

The authors explain how the brain plans movements by integrating biological and environmental constraints and the method may be of potential value for understanding motor dysfunction and guiding subsequent rehabilitation programs. Moreover, it opens the prospect of studying brain functions by a cooperative interaction of mathematicians and neuroscientists. Interestingly, the paper is a clear demonstration that mathematical principles and theories, formerly used for understanding the non-living world, are now used for understanding how biological organisms integrate these laws.

Journal reference:

Berret B, Darlot C, Jean F, Pozzo T, Papaxanthis C, et al. The Inactivation Principle: Mathematical Solutions Minimizing the Absolute Work and Biological Implications for the Planning of Arm Movements. PLoS Comput Biol, 2008; 4 (10): e1000194 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000194

Free Presentation Tonight 10/18 6pm

Please join us at the center tonight for a 1 1/2 hour presentation by Anat.

Attendees will experience a movement lesson, hear Anat speaking about the work and have the opportunity to ask her questions in addition to receiving a special discount if they sign up for the Vitality workshop on November 1 and 2. To view more information, please click on the following link;


ABM in the workplace

Two graduates of the 2004 training, John Robson and Chad Estes are to be regular contributors to this blog. Here John writes:

This is my first post to this blog and I am excited to let you know of another application of this wonderful work.  If you are reading this you probably already know about some of the benefits that have been experienced by children, seniors, high performers and folks recovering from injuries.  What you may not know is that the Anat Baniel Method can be used to raise workplace performance to a new level.

Thousands of work days are lost each month through back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and repetitive stress injuries.  As well as actual days lost there are huge losses in productivity when people come to work with pain or injuries and are unable to perform at their best.

No one wants to be in pain and they especially don’t want to have to deal with the demands of the workplace when they are in pain. It is clear that a comfortable worker is a happy worker.  A worker who can move easily and fluidly can focus on the job at hand and perform at their best.

Chad Estes and I have created a company called ETM Consultants that provides workplace solutions that will help employees perform.  We offer a variety of services – the one that I am most excited about is our on site program.  We go into a workplace and look at what workers are doing and what demands are being placed on their bodies.  We then design a series of lessons just for that group and teach the lessons on site.  The result is higher performance, happier workers, happier employers and more of this wonderful work in the world at large.

We look forward to telling you more about how the Anat Baniel Method contributes to the national economy in future posts.  Stay tuned……

John Robson

P.S. Late breaking news.  The office  where I work along with practitioners of other modalities (Source for Well Being www.sourceforwellbeing.com) has just been voted “Best in Western North Carolina” by readers of the most widely circulated paper in this area.  Yippee!!!  See http://www.mountainx.com/bestof/2008/2008personal_services

Julia’s word of the week


Parker Olenick, 4 years

As I have mentioned before, it is the children and their parents who visit us that are the truly extraordinary people associated with this work; none less so than the Olenick’s. These 3 rays of sunshine entered our lives in January of this year and have been regular visitors ever since. They always hang out in the foyer making everyone feel welcome and at ease, creating a real community among the families and being wonderful ambassadors for what we are trying to do. Parker introduces himself below, possibly with a little help from Kevin and Samantha, although, as you will learn, Parker has much to say for himself!

Hi All,

My name is Parker.  I am four years old and I have cerebral palsy.  I was a born ten weeks premature and weighted three pounds, ten ounces.  I spent six weeks in the neonatal ICU.  When I was two and half, the doctor told my parents that I had brain damage.  I thought something was up when I couldn’t walk like my friends.  The doctors said that I should start physical therapy, so I did.  My parents took me to therapy twice a week for a year.  The therapists gave me braces for my ankles called AFOs.  They also gave me a gate trainer which most people call a walker.  I really enjoyed this set up as I was now able to walk by my self and get around more easily.  After a full year of therapy the therapists measured my range of motion.  My muscles had become more spastic.  My range of motion had decreased.  In fact I had gotten worse.   Fortunately, my parents are brilliant.  As soon as they were told of my brain damage, they started investigating all sorts of therapy.  They noticed that the therapy we had been doing focused on the problems with my legs and muscles.  But what about the damage to my brain?  Thankfully, we were introduced to The Anat Baniel Method through our neighbor who’s close friends travel from Australia for lessons from Anat and her staff.  My parents checked out the website, watched some videos, and did some more research.  They though this method was definitely worth some more investigation.  So, they made an appointment for me to go to San Rafael for some “Lessons”.  They thought that therapy focusing on my brain and how it is involved in the function of my whole system was a good avenue.  They scheduled five days of lessons with two sessions per day.  After the second day I saw some major results.  My clinical diagnosis is spastic diplagia, which means that both of my legs have very tight muscles.  The doctors call is spasticity.  Anyway, after two days I developed arches in my feet.  Before the lessons my feet were like bricks with toes.  Even my baby foot prints look like rectangular blocks with toes.  By the end of the week I felt much looser and more mobile.  My parents were very pleased.  They were telling everyone how great this new method was.  They also received an education on my condition from the practitioners.  Anat showed them how I had spasticity in lots of my body.  My back, shoulders, hips, pelvis, neck, and arms all had spasticity.  She showed us how my body should move and gave us some ideas to help.  I felt so much better that I begged my parents to come back again soon.  Now that we have been coming for almost a year I am doing great.  My spasticity is much better.  My mobility is coming along nicely.  We come to see my friends in San Rafael once a month for a week.  Every visit I develop new “tricks”.  I have much better balance, flexibility, coordination, and self confidence.  I really look forward to lessons with my friends at ABM.  They help me a lot.  Well, my parents are telling me it’s time for bed.  So, I better go.  I’ll write again soon to keep you posted as to my progress.  I have lots of fun stories to share.
Bye for now,

Marin Free Children’s Clinic Sept ‘08 (ii)

Peggy Chipkin writes;

Perhaps the best way to start is the message I received from the mother of one of the children I saw at this month’s Free Childrens’ Clinic. He is a boy of about 2 years old with congenital Noonan’s syndrome, which involved his upper body.  He had brilliantly compensated by becoming very strong in his lower body.  He did not crawl on his hands and knees.  Instead, he was very mobile by scooting in the sitting position.

Here is the mother’s message:  “He is doing BEAUTIFULLY !  He is actually trying a lot more walking now.   He is going up and down small steps and  getting very mobile up and down steps. As far as crawling, we noticed that evening (after the lesson at the  Clinic), in the hotel room, he was definitely up on his hands and knees, and crawling,  and pushing things around with his hands.  We were very impressed because he just doesn’t do that very often.”

Peggy is a homeopath who is planning to be a regular contributor to our blog.
The day after the clinic Anat taught a one-day workshop for parents and professionals for working with children with special needs. A number of parents stayed on for the workshop and shared their experiences from the clinic. One mother of triplets told of how her son had had severe eating problems eating only pureed foods by mouth needing top ups by a feeding tube, taking many hours of the mother’s and nanny’s time. After the lesson he asked for a bite of chicken, the first time he had asked for food in his life, and then for some scrambled eggs the next day. He didn’t actually eat it but was interested and fiddled around with it in his mouth for a while. It was only after the scrambled eggs that she realized what had happened the night before, as it had seemed so natural! Just with one lesson that was not directly addressing the eating he made this radical change.

Another mother told of how she had taken her son with attentional difficulties and sensory processing issues to a horse-riding lesson after the clinic. He noticed how different he felt on the horse, made the association to his lesson at the clinic and turned to his mother and said, “Thank you for taking me to that place.”