What scientific fields of inquiry are most relevant to the Alexander Technique? The Alexander Technique works at the interface between the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system—changing habitual neuromuscular patterns of support and movement. The overarching field with the most overlap with this process is motor control. The fields of neurology, psychology, and biomechanics are also relevant, the former two addressing aspects of the nervous system and the latter addressing aspects of the musculoskeletal system.
Motor control (sometimes called movement science) is the study of how movement, balance, and posture are regulated by the nervous system and by mental processes. It’s a highly interdisciplinary field. At the basic science level, three of the main components are biomechanics (kinesiology), neuroscience, and psychology. At the more applied level, you have exercise/sport science and rehabilitation science.
Biomechanics is the study of the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms. Kinesiology, the study of the mechanics of body movements, is the most relevant sub-area of biomechanics, for our purposes.
For an in-depth look at the biomechanics of sit-to-stand, see Patrick Johnson and Tim Cacciatore’s essay, “The Physics of Sit-to-Stand.”
Neuroscience refers to any or all of the sciences which deal with the structure or function of the nervous system: from the molecular level, through the cellular level, all the way up to the brain. It’s a huge area, and one in which motor control plays an important role.
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Some especially relevant topics are perception, learning, and attention. At the interface of psychology and neuroscience is cognitive neuroscience, where you will find studies attempting to link brain activity to mental processes, typically with tools such as EEG or MRI.
Overview of Research on AT
See “Science Catches Up,” by Rajal Cohen, for an overview of the research basis for the Alexander Technique.