I’ve always been lazy. As fate dictated, this turned into a tremendous attention span, since it always seemed easier to continue to worry about one thing than to stop and look at another. One result of this was that I was a most well-behaved infant. I could shake the rafters on occasion, but that was rare. My old brother, far more spontaneous then as now, kept the parents busy running to see what was bothering him. With me they’d run to make sure I was still alive. Lying still flattened the back of my head such that I suspect my cerebellum is underdeveloped.
We boys had a dog we called Flash. Daddy picked her up for free when a friend called him to say there was a stray in his neighborhood. It was not until many years later that I figured out what the dog was doing; she had rounded up all the other dogs and was herding them. I realized that when I saw the movie “Babe.” Like my older brother, my younger is more active than I, and I’m sure the dog liked playing with them. When I was alone, I’d generally just sit and pet her. It seemed to me that the dog was enormously affectionate. And I noticed that the back of the dog’s skull was disproportionately large compared with other dogs, so I assumed that the part of the brain that was in back was the part that governed affection.
So I was most surprised to be taught at Harvard Medical School that the cerebellum, which occupies that location, was only concerned with motor function, coordination and the like.
But now I learn, (Egidio D’Angelo, Cerebellum gets social Science vol. 363 no. 6424, January 18, 2019 page 229) that the cerebellum is indeed involved in social interaction. It’s only taken 70 years for the rest of the world to catch up with one lazy little boy. And of course, the world of science still has no clue, in spite of my best efforts, of just how vital affection – which translates into marrying cousins – is to survival of the species. It better not take them 70 years; we don’t have that kind of time.