The university of life

Couch Potato

Animalization is not the process where humans turn into animals. It is a scientific fact that humans already belong to the animal kingdom and cannot be further animalized as such. Surely we are not plants! It is indeed true that some humans lead a vegetative state in front of the television, and are referred to as 'couch potatoes'. Ironically most people misunderstand the term couch potato since it was introduced after some experiments by the Japanese Doctor Katashi Mayashiro in 1977 for a very different reason than resolving the question if humans were plants or animals. He was working as a local brain surgeon in the small village of Kiabata during weekdays, and researching sea urchins in the local Marine Biological station in the weekends.

Animalization is a phenomenon witnessed during the embryonic development of the sea urchin. If the top half or animal half (yes, that is how it is called) is isolated during an early embryonic stage certain the characteristics normally displayed by this tissue are exaggerated. The animal tuft, a sense organ, is expanded. Hence it is animalized. The other side of the embryo is named the vegetal side. In an intact embryo a substance from this vegetal side inhibits some of the animal characteristics of the animal side. The opposite is also true. The vegetal side will be vegetalized if the animal half is missing.

Katashi Mayashiro proposed that the human species evolved from apes by losing a part of the animal side of the human embryo. This led to an increase in vegetal characteristics due to a reduction of animal inhibitors. In the couch potato this caused a reduction in motility. The motor center of the brain vegetalizes and does not emit enough impulses to the limbs for locomotion. Lack if locomotion is common in vegetables. The same effect was achieved with children in whom the motor center was treated with a powerful laser. These children tended to stay put on the couches of the waiting rooms until they were picked up buy their grateful parents. The nurses quickly started referring to them as the 'couch potatos', because 'vegetalized children sitting on the couch waiting for their parents' is also a long word in Japanese.


Professor at the UOL

Go back