« AnteriorContinuar »
the breath-holding stillness of the boy playing 'I spy,' to whom the seeker is near; and its obverse side is shown in our involuntary waving of arms, jumping up and down, and so forth, when we wish to attract someone's attention at a distance. Creatures 'stalking' their prey and creatures hiding from their pursuers alike show how immobility diminishes conspicuity. In the woods, if we are quiet, the squirrels and birds will actually touch us. Flies will light on stuffed birds and stationary frogs. On the other hand, the tremendous shock of feeling the thing we are sitting on begin to move, the exaggerated start it gives us to have an insect unexpectedly pass over our skin, or a cat noiselessly come and snuffle about our hand, the excessive reflex effects of tickling, etc., show how exciting the sensation of motion is per se. A kitten cannot help pursuing a moving ball. Impressions too faint to be cognized at all are immediately felt if they move. A fly sitting is unnoticed,-we feel it the moment it crawls. A shadow may be too faint to be perceived. If we hold a finger between our closed eyelid and the sunshine we do not notice its presence. The moment we move it to and fro, however, we discern it. Such visual perception as this reproduces the conditions of sight among the radiates.
In ourselves, the main function of the peripheral parts of the retina is that of sentinels, which, when beams of light move over them, cry 'Who goes there?' and call the fovea to the spot. Most parts of the skin do but perform the same office for the finger-tips. Of course movement of surface under object is (for purposes of stimulation) equivalent to movement of object over surface. In exploring the shapes and sizes of things by either eye or skin the movements of these organs are incessant and unrestrainable. Every such movement draws the points and lines of the object across the surface, imprints them a hundred times more sharply, and drives them home to the attention. The immense part thus played by movements in our perceptive activity is held by many psychologists to prove that the
muscles are themselves the space-perceiving organ. Not surface-sensibility, but the muscular sense,' is for these writers the original and only revealer of objective extension. But they have all failed to notice with what peculiar intensity muscular movements call surface-sensibilities into play, and how largely the mere discernment of impressions depends on the mobility of the surfaces upon which they fall.
Our articular surfaces are tactile organs which become intensely painful when inflamed. Besides pressure, the only stimulus they receive is their motion upon each other. To the sensation of this motion more than anything else seems due the perception of the position which our limbs may have assumed. Patients cutaneously and muscularly anæsthetic in one leg can often prove that their articular sensibility remains, by showing (by movements of their well leg) the positions in which the surgeon may place their insensible one. Goldscheider in Berlin caused fingers, arms, and legs to be passively rotated upon their various joints in a mechanical apparatus which registered both the velocity of movement impressed and the amount of angular rotation. The minimal felt amounts of rotation were much less than a single angular degree in all the joints except those of the fingers. Such displacements as these, Goldscheider says, can hardly be detected by the eye. Anæsthesia of the skin produced by induction-currents had no disturbing effect on the perception, nor did the various degrees of pressure of the moving force upon the skin affect it. It became, in fact, all the more distinct in proportion as the concomitant pressure-feelings were eliminated by artificial anesthesia. When the joints themselves, however, were made artificially anæsthetic, the perception of the movement grew obtuse and the angular rotations had to be much increased before they were perceptible. All these facts prove, according to Herr Goldscheider, that the joint-surfaces and these alone are the seat of the impres
sions by which the movements of our members are immediately perceived.
2) Sensations of Movement through Space. These may be divided into feelings of rotation and feelings of translation. As was stated at the end of the chapter on the ear, the labyrinth (semicircular canals, utricle and saccule) seems to have nothing to do with hearing. It is conclusively established to-day that the semicircular canals are the organs of a sixth special sense, that namely of rotation. When subjectively excited, this sensation is known as dizziness or vertigo, and rapidly engenders the farther feeling of nausea. Irritative disease of the inner ear causes intense vertigo (Ménière's disease). Traumatic irritation of the canals in birds and mammals makes the animals tumble and throw themselves about in a way best explained by supposing them to suffer from false sensations of falling, etc., which they compensate by reflex muscular acts that throw them the other way. Galvanic irritation of the membranous canals in pigeons cause just the same compensatory movements of head and eye which actual rotations impressed on the creatures produce. Deaf and dumb persons (amongst whom many must have had their auditory nerves or labyrinths destroyed by the same disease which took away their hearing) are in a very large percentage of cases found quite insusceptible of being made dizzy by rotation. Purkinje and Mach have shown that, whatever the organ of the sense of rotation may be, it must have its seat in the head. The body is excluded by Mach's elaborate experiments.
The semicircular canals, being, as it were, six little spiritlevels in three rectangular planes, seem admirably adapted to be organs of a sense of rotation. We need only suppose that when the head turns in the plane of any one of them, the relative inertia of the endolymph momentarily increases its pressure on the nerve-termini in the appropriate ampulla, which pressure starts a current towards the central organ for feeling vertigo. This organ seems to be
the cerebellum, and the teleology of the whole business would appear to be the maintenance of the upright position. If a man stand with shut eyes and attend to his body, he will find that he is hardly for a moment in equilibrium. Incipient fallings towards every side in succession are incessantly repaired by muscular contractions which restore the balance; and although impressions on the tendons, ligaments, foot-soles, joints, etc., doubtless are among the causes of the compensatory contractions, yet the strongest and most special reflex arc would seem to be that which has the sensation of incipient vertigo for its afferent member. This is experimentally proved to be much more easily excited than the other sensations referred to. When the cerebellum is disorganized the reflex response fails to occur properly and loss of equilibrium is the result. Irritation of the cerebellum produces vertigo, loss of balance, and nausea; and galvanic currents through the head produce various forms of vertigo correlated with their direction. It seems probable that direct excitement of the cerebellar centre is responsible for these feelings. In addition to these corporeal reflexes the sense of rotation causes compensatory rollings of the eyeballs in the opposite direction, to which some of the subjective phenomena of optical vertigo are due. Steady rotation gives no sensation; it is only starting or stopping, or, more generally speaking, acceleration (positive or negative), which impresses the end-organs in the ampullæ. The sensation always has a little duration, however; and the feeling of reversed movement after whirling violently may last for nearly a minute, slowly fading out.
The cause of the sense of translation (movement forwards or backwards) is more open to dispute. The seat of this sensation has been assigned to the semicircular canals when compounding their currents to the brain; and also to the utricle. The latest experimenter, M. Delage, considers that it cannot possibly be in the head, and assigns it rather to the entire body, so far as its parts (blood-ves
sels, viscera, etc.) are movable against each other and suffer friction or pressure from their relative inertia when a movement of translation begins. M. Delage's exclusion of the labyrinth from this form of sensibility cannot, however, yet be considered definitively established, so the matter may rest with this mention.