In our lineage, ancestral species settled on an internal spine with a head at one end that could be pushed and pulled in the direction of intent. A primal mechanism facilitating these movements is the articulation between the first Cervical Vertebrae(Atlas) and the base of the Skull(Occiput). This articulation enables the Head to angle up/down relative to the line of the Spine. In our species, even though we have verticalized our spine, this articulation still facilitates us in moving our head in a “yes” nodding movement. The side to side movement as seen in reptilian vertebrates is achieved by bending the neck, which for us is the motion of touching the ear to the shoulder. The left/right movement which for us is nodding in the “No” pattern is facilitated by Cervical Vertebrae C1 and C2 (Atlas/Axis) and is discussed in this post:
ATLAS/AXIS AND HEARING/VESTIBULAR
This post is a discussion of the mechanical attributes of the Atlas/Occiput articulation and its relation to a specific function of our Cranial System – supporting the eyes. For a more general perspective of how this function relates to the holistic animal, it is recommended to also read the material in the post on Light Sensing, where there is a discussion on the association between the function of the Occiput/Atlas articulation and vision; visual sensory processing; and our species dimensional evolution:
There is also a high correlation between the organization of the structural support for the eyes and the jaw, which is discussed further in this post on the mouth.
The eyes and jaw team in the task of energy acquisition, the most foundational task of a Living System. Seeing something eatable and then eating it are ganged as efficiently as possible. Otherwise would violate the tenents of Evolutionary Theory.
The material presented in this post is written specifically for Manual Therapists who may wish to enhance their understanding of Occiput/Atlas function with the perspective of the models presented on this website. It is this writer’s experience that understanding the functional role of the cranial structure discussed here immensely enhanced his ability to facilitate change in this cranial system, which he regularly finds restricted in some manner in his client cohort. A link to therapeutic resources related to this subject here:
NEURO-OPTOMETRY AND CONCUSSION
Sphenoid/Occiput/Atlas/Axis as the top of the locomotive core and scaffold for vision.
SCM and Traps as the vertebrate motor system for head movement.
Pituitary Glands as the interface between the electrical, biochemical and mechanical elements of our neurophysiology. HPA Axis.
/PREDATOR/PREY SECTION ON VISION
The mechanics of the base of the skull as relates to vision originates with Vertebrate Physiology and the Line Dimension. The joint articulation (Atlas/Occiput) is a slide that moves the head on top of the spine in a “yes” nodding motion. It is also associated with the Frontal Plane and the Doing Archetype.
Overview of discussions on movements of the head:
MOVEMENTS OF THE HEAD
Overview of discussions on our head:
Overview of discussions on our locomotive core:
Overview of discussions on our core neurophysiology:
THE FOUR CORES
Overview of models presented on this site: