The uterus is like a soccer crowd

In their article Why the heart is like an orchestra and the uterus is like a soccer crowd published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Professor Roger Smith (and co-authors Dr Mohammad Imtiaz, David Banney, Dr Jonathan Paul and Dr Roger Young) look at the wonder of life, by examining the role of the human uterus during labour. 

They explain that the uterus, which has no pacemaker or motor innervation, develops rhythmic, powerful contractions, resulting in increased pressure to dilate the cervix and force the baby through the pelvis.  In doing so, Roger and his team develop an analogy between the emergent behaviour of the uterus in labour, and the behaviour of crowds at a soccer match that sing together without a conductor.  They note the contrasts with the behaviour of the heart, where sequential contractions are regulated by a pacemaker, similar to the actions of a conductor and an orchestra.

Professor Roger Smith is an internationally recognised leader in the pathophysiology of human pregnancy in the School of Medicine and Public Health.  The Director of the Mothers and Babies group within the University's Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Science, Roger leads a multidisciplinary group working on maternal, foetal and neonatal health problems.

Find out more