Issue compiled and edited by Roger Carpenter and Imran Noorani
It’s natural to assume that the job of the motor system is to produce movement. But in fact most of the time the body is not moving at all, but keeping still. We are so used to this that we take it for granted, but one only has to look at a squirrel in the garden, or observe human eye movements, to be aware of the continual alternation between rapid movement and periods of ‘freezing’, a pattern that is a universal feature throughout the animal kingdom. Keeping still is a challenging problem for the motor system, and certainly not just a matter of muscular inhibition.
This theme issue focuses on stopping and keeping still, from behavioural, neurophysiological and comparative perspectives. We hope this novel and timely approach will stimulate research in an area that is likely to lead to insights into the fundamental brain mechanisms controlling movement, especially in the basal ganglia, a large area of the brain that is currently little-understood. It also promises clinical benefits in terms of improved differential diagnosis in many neural disorders, more precise monitoring of disease progression, and evaluation of the success of therapeutic procedures.
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