Laws of nature that define biological action and perception

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37 Scopus citations


We describe a physical approach to biological functions, with the emphasis on the motor and sensory functions. The approach assumes the existence of biology-specific laws of nature uniting salient physical variables and parameters. In contrast to movements in inanimate nature, actions are produced by changes in parameters of the corresponding laws of nature. For movements, parameters are associated with spatial referent coordinates (RCs) for the effectors. Stability of motor actions is ensured by the abundant mapping of RCs across hierarchical control levels. The sensory function is viewed as based on an interaction of efferent and afferent signals leading to an iso-perceptual manifold where percepts of salient sensory variables are stable. This approach offers novel interpretations for a variety of known neurophysiological and behavioral phenomena and makes a number of novel testable predictions. In particular, we discuss novel interpretations for the well-known phenomena of agonist-antagonist co-activation and vibration-induced illusions of both position and force. We also interpret results of several new experiments with unintentional force changes and with analysis of accuracy of perception of variables produced by elements of multi-element systems. Recently, this approach has been expanded to interpret motor disorders including spasticity and consequences of subcortical disorders (such as Parkinson's disease). We suggest that the approach can be developed for cognitive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalPhysics of Life Reviews
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Artificial Intelligence


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