Metatherapies and the Great Health: Neuroplastic and neurodiverse futures as antismart architectures

The project proposes to think neuroplasticity not in terms of the capacity to align with the hyperattention modes of smart control environments that are constanty redirecting attention (smart environments of control), rather it proposes to think it as quite the opposite: the capacity to escape that redirection by developing modes of attention that bring in a richer spectrum of embodied multisensory experience.

A neurodiverse culture would be one which doesn´t impose a particular motor-perceptual-cognitive ratio. The Algoricene imposes particular reductive geometries of perception and thinking, whoever can´t follow them is considered disabled. The neurotypical is the one able to align herself with the reductive geometries of the Algoricene.

Modes of non (or not very)hierarchical interrelation of sensing modalities abound in experience. The extreme case of hierarchical organization of perspective is a dominant anomaly. However rather than just acknowledging that there are other modes, we need to cultivate them and open up the secanario to a much borader field of reinvention.

For Nietzsche illness relates to anarchy of forces and helath to having a force dominanting over others in a body, but he also speaks of a Great Health, which is the capacity to sustain multiplicities of forces, one that “permits paths to many opposing ways of thought”. The project relates that Great Health to the great reason of the body and to the capacity to open up to multiplicities of worlds and affections in a fully positive force of composition as opening.

Metatherapies are processes of healing the ecologies towards greater neuroplasticity, generating conditions for a neurodiverse culture.

Metatherapies is a line of research of the Metabody project together with neurodiverse people and people with alternate mobilities, that implies reversing the habitual clinical practice so that instead of normalising the subject, environments (physical and digital) and means are proposed through which non normative subjects can project and elaborate their non normative cognitive or mobility potentials. At the level of mobility movement techniques are proposed which are not based on repetition but on exploration of divergent movements, through microvariations induced by the relation to the environments and the exploration of proprioception and microperceptions. These proposals can equally be applied to neurotypical people and people with normative mobilities, affording evironments for expanding cognitive-kinetic potentials towards recovering/gaining the cognitive and affective plasticity of the child (or of the autistic).

  1. Algoricene Hypothesis: The subproject Algoricene of Metabody proposes that cognitive and motor normativity is defined by the predominance of causal architectures and geometric environments, inheritors of Renaissance perspective and mechanism. The Algoricene concept defines the dominance of (major) algorithmic ecologies or modes of organisation. These would be in themselves “sick” ecologies inasmuch as they impose reductive and closed modes of movement (cognitively also, since consciousness emerges from movement following embodied cognition theories). The Algoricene hypothesis states that the “neurotypical” condition corresponds merely to the ability to align with the reductive modes of movement and cognition of the Algoricene, as opposed to a much broader field of other neurodiverse modes of movement and more complex cognition that must be put in value. It is the perceptual ecology of the Algoricene that must be opened and “healed” and that is the point of Metatherapies. Faced with these dominant or major ecologies, there is a need to promote and value smaller, open ecologies, in which the modes of movement are literally and cognitively not predefined and tend to an open multiplicity of possibilities. This will be explored with 4 integrated techniques in Metatopia environments and three lines of work:
  2. Cognitive plasticity: The Metabody project proposes 4 independent techniques (disalignments, flexinamics, amorphogenesis/metagaming and microdances/microsexos) converging in the Metatopia environments, as environments that are motor and cognitively open and proposes to explore in what ways different types of neurodiverse subjects / bodies, which are not functional with respect to the closed and dominant ecologies of the Algoricene (of causal and geometric movements) can project and develop their cognitive worlds in such environments without being imposed a normative logic. The aim is to explore the potential of metaffordaces, open affordances, interaction environments that
    1. favor indeterminacy,
    2. enhance one’s own expanded proprioception (alloceptive swarms),
    3. the co-emergence of environment-movement or environment-subject (intra-action) and
    4. the proliferation of non-hierarchical transmodal sensory modalities (transmodal sensory continuum).
  3. Motor plasticity: At the same time, it is about exploring how these environments and techniques of movement and perception, which enhance the continuous but subtle variation of movement instead of repetitive learning, can stimulate mobility by creating and developing new potentials of movement in dimensionalities and scales that are not normative and dominant in the Algoricene´s geometries, and based on continuous openness, micromovement, transmodal multisensoriality and proprioception / alloception. On the one hand, the motivation associated with non-repetitive learning will be studied, but above all the possibility of creating previously non-existent movements (alien to the Algoricene´s geometries) and in which the bodies in question can develop their peculiar abilities, based on the idea that movement´s variations are qualitatively infinite and that infinite kinds of movement ecologies can be gereated.
  4. Finally the interrelation between the cognitive and the motor is foregrounded, and between movement and the emergence of the entire ecology: open cognitive environments will be open motor environments since I take a radical enactive standpoint:
    1. cognition emerges from movement,
    2. but also does the entire ecosystem
    3. and this can happen in very diverse ways, some more open than others. This openness is studied at the level of how fluidly and elastically different sensing modalities cooperate in the experience.
    4. This leads to neurodiversity always implying motor diversity and perceptual diversity, and implies diversity equating indeterminacy.

Along this line a research was started in December 2017 with Alicia Pañalba (university of Valladolid) and Rubén Lopez Cano (ESMUC, Bacelona) in which we had Immersions of participants in the Metatopia environments, of  20 minutes per person, preceded and followed by interviews in adjacent space, going through three scenes of the Metatopia environments involving interaction with sound, light and digital projections, attached to a 5-module hanging architecture of the Metatopia environments, wearing two accelerometers, one in each forearm.

I proposed the initially the following questions for the research:

  • how does aural, multimodal, proprioceptive perception and distinction endo-exo, change.
    • modes of expanded and transformed proprioception
    • co-emergence of environment and body-subject-movement
  • degrees of perceptual-motor-cognitive plasticity of an environment:
    • plasticity in the organization of multisensory integration or crossmodal sensing: example of a closed and rigid environment: that of perspective, which fixes, frames, grids, algorithmizes, hierarchizes, imposes the dominance of vision and erases the rest, kinesthesia becomes algorithmic.
    • degree of (in) definition of affordances, non-objectual, neither Cartesian-linear, nor Newtonian-causal, nor formal (the diffuse / amorphous in the multisensory and spatiality), the non-directionality of the movement.
    • how the sense of space and time (trance …) changes in non-linear, non-Cartesian environments.

The first study by Alicia and Ruben no perceptual plasticity in the Metatopia environments will be published soon, and the research continued in 2018.