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Flashback Fridays – The power of context

By Timothy Cocks Science and the world, Patient examples 29 Mar 2014

A little late this week with the Friday Flashback (it might still be Friday somewhere in the world)

The Power of context

“In an individual, the exact same movement can be represented by different networks of neurones and different synaptic activity”

How does the above statement resonate? For example, if you were to turn your neck with eyes closed or open, or in differing moods, there would be different populations of neurones engaged, yet the movement would look exactly the same.

The footballer about to kick an end of game penalty which could win the game has a motor programme ready to play. If that motor programme had been constructed and practiced in various contexts then it should be a richer and better programme and the outcome should be better. For example, if the penalty kick motor programme had been practiced in a stress state, therefore with lots of glutamate in the brain and areas such as the amygdala now linked into the motor programme, the motor programme should not be that disturbed when the kick is in a stressfull context.

Context of movement can altered in many ways –gravity, vision, various distractions, various emotions, altered threats, place, balance, meaning, even going back in time – perhaps the benefit from dance that many patient’s with Parkinson’s disease get, is that the dance and/or the music accesses old movement neurosignatures.

I don’t think the rehabilitation therapies are aware enough of the power of context.

David Butler, October 24 2007

Seven years on, are the rehabilitation therapies more aware of, and using the power of context?


Tim Cocks


  1. The context has to be right otherwise the content will never attain it’s true potential……..The practitioner represents the context so a pair of green glasses can work wonders …………that which he delivers becomes his unique content…………

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