Wow, this thread has taken on quite a life! Jonathan, thanks for the PM "heads up."
To clarify ... the reference I made earlier to fascia was not accurately worded. Fascia has been found to contain not neural type cells, but myofribroblasts - a kind of cell similar to those found in smooth muscle tissue which give the tissue the ability to contract.
At the 1st International Fascia Research Congress held in 2007, a paper was presented on this finding, which additionally determined that the presence of these cells within fascia permit it to contract like muscle, though much more slowly (over a period of minutes to hours, depending on the circumstance).
Here's a copy of the brief (not the full paper):
If that link doesn't work, go to the abstract page here and look for the abstract entitled, "Fascia is able to contract and relax in smooth muscle-like manner":
The implication is that fascia can contract (and relax) independently, and thus act like muscle in some respects. But what would fire such movement? More recent research into the role of mental intention is starting to tie together the action of the brain in initiating nerve-firing and muscle movement (I'm trying to dig up that article, which ran, via wire services, in the popular press in late 2008, but in the meantime, here's an interesting ad for an intention-controlled myofeedback device: http://www.ihe-online.com/index.php?...product%5D=964
). If fascia can "act like muscle," then perhaps intention similarly can fire fascia to contract and relax. Interesting to conjecture over.