How come we can’t control a lot of muscles that we technically are able to?

127 viewsBiologyOther

For example, people who can wiggle their ears or raise one eyebrow, the body is obviously able to control those muscles. But for most people, they can’t do it from the start and had to practice overtime. Why are we not able to do it from the start? I understand it may be due to those muscles not serving much of a purpose compared to others, but we are still able to control them.

In: Biology

4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Every muscle in our bodies is being controlled. It’s just that, for most muscles, our consciousness doesn’t need to assert direct control. For some, it’d even be a bad idea (think heart). For those, control is handled either by local nerve clusters or by sections of our brains that work autonomously.

In regards to muscles, some people can and some can’t control; those are genetic differences. There is no evolutionary benefit to being able to roll your tongue, but there also is no negative effect. So, the gene that wires those muscles to the part of our brain we use for conscious control is just floating out there, some people have it, some don’t.

Other muscles are wired the same, but accessing them isn’t easy. Most of those are usually used in a group, and we need to learn how to trick the parts of our brain that control the group into not just firing up the whole thing. One example would be the group of muscles on the back of your head that can pull everything back. Raising eyebrows and wiggling ears happens when you manage to only engage parts of it.

Edit/PS: Also note that our consciousness rarely controls a single muscle. Mostly, it asks the motor cortex to execute a trained pattern. So it also is hard to move a single muscle of those that control your finger movements. Try it. You’ll find that it’s very easy to think about how a finger should move and make that happen. But contracting a single specific muscle is hard. (Hint: Those don’t sit in the fingers but the forearm. (Remember that scene from Terminator?)

Anonymous 0 Comments


Anonymous 0 Comments

You don’t learn to control individual muscles. You learn to move body parts using a sometimes complex combination of muscles.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Ear wiggling is pretty fascinating. It comes from evolutionary ancestors that had more control of their ears. Some people can wiggle their ears much more easily, either because the muscles are stronger or the brain circuits for controlling that exact muscle are stronger.

The thing is, with enough practice, people can strengthen their muscles and their ability to control them.