Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sensory Integration in the Brain

Recent research in brain-based sensory integration will help explain a lot of perplexing perceptual disturbances and glitches that for the most part, individual children and adults have had to muddle through.

In the figure below, look at unimodal sensory areas on the left (vision only, touch only, audition only), and look at the bimodal or trimodal sensory areas on the right.



The presence of multimodal sensory areas means that injury in one location can affect multiple sensory systems at once. It explains the surprisingly common occurrence of multiple mild sensory deficits (mild visual and auditory processing problems, for instance, or mild visual and balance difficulties)in conditions such as mild birth injury, prematurity, dyslexia, or autism spectrum disorders.

The presence of these multisensory areas also may explain why integrative activities that incorporate movement, sight, touch, or sound, are often more effective than training or therapy directed to one modality at a time.

In this basic science review paper, there is also an interesting discussion of how different pathways coordinate the timing of multisensory signals. It might explain while some repetitive activities are "organizing"...rocking back and forth, tapping, bouncing...the rhythmicity provides a predictable pattern that could help the nervous system synchronize position sense, motor activity, sight, and even sound.

Multisensory Paper pdf

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