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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: James C. Galloway, PhD, PT (University of Delaware)
Description: This book contains the classic writings of 12 influential movement scientists of the past together with interpretations and annotations by current scientists in the fields of biomechanics, neuromuscular physiology and psychology. Such a compilation is unique in the interdisciplinary field of movement science.
Purpose: The editors aspire to combine a glance back at select historical writings with a current (and necessarily subjective) interpretation from workers active in the specific field of the now classic work. Each contributing author takes readers back to the issues and techniques of the time of the original thoughts, then brings them forward with this new perspective to the modern issues of movement science. The editors and authors succeed in delivering a rich and detailed work that is part reference book, part historical celebration, and part review of the current issues.
Audience: Although this is not an introductory motor control text, it is well suited to the serious student of movement science, whether undergraduate or full professor. Neurologists and physical therapists involved in motor control research will also find several chapters containing issues directly relevant to clinical diagnosis and rehabilitation.
Features: The first chapter by Onno Meijer provides an essay on the historical significance of attempting to coordinate and control things in the world, whether they are limbs or clocks. Subsequent chapters are devoted to the writings of one or two authors within a specific field. These include N. A. Bernstein (multijoint control), W. Braune and O. Fisher (mechanics and muscle activity in gait), R. Granit (spinal circuitry), A.V. Hill (muscle performance), W. O. Fenn and H. Elftman (mechanical work), Hughlings Jackson (cortical organization), Sherrington (neurophysiology) and Robert Woodworth (motor control theory). No book is without limitations. Historical writings can be labored, rambling, and ambiguous. Interpretations are subjective. Thus, qualified guesses become prophecy whereas hard fought findings are dismissed as obvious. Issues critical to one field of movement science are drivel to another. This book has all of these characteristics, but I expected this as a natural result of a book that is as much about scientific, personal, and historical relationships as about facts, figures, or technology.
Assessment: The editors and authors should be congratulated on a very fine effort. This is a book to turn to for issues and data, as well as for history and perspective on much that is coordination and control. Lastly, this is the type of book that you check before you write or discuss an idea as 'new' to avoid that audience member who publicly reminds you that actually King Charles V had the same idea in the 1500s and he was wrong, but Bernstein solved the problem in the summer of 1935!