The transition from being sea creatures to living on land, even if it happened over 300 million years ago, seems to have left its traces on the way we keep our balance today.
“It’s a discovery that is likely to be controversial,” says Kathy Cullen, the senior researcher on a paper on the subject that was published recently in Nature Communications. She has been working on this problem for over a decade with her colleague Maurice Chacron who also teaches in McGill’s Department of Physiology.
It happens to all of us at least once each winter in Montreal. You’re walking on the sidewalk and before you know it you are slipping on a patch of ice hidden under a dusting of snow. Sometimes you fall. Surprisingly often, you manage to recover your balance and walk away unscathed. McGill University researchers now understand what’s going on in the brain when you manage to recover your balance in these situations. And it is not just a matter of good luck.