Talking Heads

Today, I would like to commend to you Abraham’s article and give its URL (1). It is celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Dr. Head who was head of the journal Brain ahead of Dr. Brain who was head of Brain from 1954-67 and who wrote an essay about Head in Brain on the centenary of Head's birth. Never mind that I am a few days late, it is a worthy read. It had quite slipped my mind that Dr. Brain had been honored and was Baron Brain of Eynsham.

Whilst doffing my cap to such scientific worthies, I thought about our gestures in general and how nearly all species indulge in these although they may not be universal, even among a single species. Dr. Laidre, while studying Mandrills (2), observed that one community had developed a gesture that was unique amongst Mandrills. They will raise their arm with their elbow stuck out in the manner of the military and cover their eyes with their hand. This is clearly not a passing acknowledgement as say, in a military march past, as they will hold this eye-covering gesture for up to half an hour. It is a “Do not disturb” indicator. This I thought was strange, until I read that they live in a wildlife park in Colchester, England. I am digging deeper to see if there is a gestural timing coincident with the screening of either “Britain has Talent” or “Prime Minister’s Questions” on TV.

Another interesting gesture that has been studied by Dr. Feldman of Cambridge U, is the rolling about of cats. She concludes that it is either a sexy ‘come on’ or a sign of submission – depending who is there. With the many cats that I have met, this has either been an invitation to play or a request for a tummy-rub. I usually know which afterwards as my hand is either dripping blood or is unscathed.


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