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Where Is Sensory Information Processed In The Brain

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The Sensory And Motor Exams

How we process sensory information

Connections between the body and the CNS occur through the spinal cord. The cranial nerves connect the head and neck directly to the brain, but the spinal cord receives sensory input and sends motor commands out to the body through the spinal nerves. Whereas the brain develops into a complex series of nuclei and fiber tracts, the spinal cord remains relatively simple in its configuration . From the initial neural tube early in embryonic development, the spinal cord retains a tube-like structure with gray matter surrounding the small central canal and white matter on the surface in three columns. The dorsal, or posterior, horns of the gray matter are mainly devoted to sensory functions whereas the ventral, or anterior, and lateral horns are associated with motor functions. In the white matter, the dorsal column relays sensory information to the brain, and the anterior column is almost exclusively relaying motor commands to the ventral horn motor neurons. The lateral column, however, conveys both sensory and motor information between the spinal cord and brain.

Figure 14.5.5

Examples Of Our Senses & How The Brain Works

This termite is following a scent trail. Termites send signals to other termites through the sense of smell, to lead them to food.

Honeybees detect the Earths magnetic field. They can use this information for navigation.

Tarantulas gather sensory information through tiny hairs. The hairs allow them to detect chemicals, vibrations, and even wind direction.

Muscle Strength And Voluntary Movement

The skeletomotor system is largely based on the simple, two-cell projection from the precentral gyrus of the frontal lobe to the skeletal muscles. The corticospinal tract represents the neurons that send output from the primary motor cortex. These fibers travel through the deep white matter of the cerebrum, then through the midbrain and pons, into the medulla where most of them decussate, and finally through the spinal cord white matter in the lateral or anterior columns. These fibers synapse on motor neurons in the ventral horn. The ventral horn motor neurons then project to skeletal muscle and cause contraction. These two cells are termed the upper motor neuron and the lower motor neuron . Voluntary movements require these two cells to be active.

Tongue And Taste Buds

The sense of taste is transduced by taste buds, which are clusters of 50-100 taste receptor cells located in the tongue, soft palate, epiglottis, pharynx, and esophagus. The tongue is the main sensory organ of the gustatory system. The tongue contains papillae, or specialized epithelial cells, which have taste buds on their surface. There are three types of papillae with taste buds in the human gustatory system:

  • fungiform papillae, which are mushroom-shaped and located at the tip of the tongue;
  • foliate papillae, which are ridges and grooves toward the back of the tongue;
  • circumvallate papillae, which are circular-shaped and located in a row just in front of the end of the tongue.

Each taste bud is flask-like in shape and formed by two types of cells: supporting cells and gustatory cells. Gustatory cells are short-lived and are continuously regenerating. They each contain a taste pore at the surface of the tongue which is the site of sensory transduction. Though there are small differences in sensation, all taste buds, no matter their location, can respond to all types of taste.

Taste Buds: A schematic drawing of a taste bud and its component pieces.

Jean Ayres: The Founder Of Si Theory And Practice

The Parietal Lobe of your brain processes sensory ...

Dr A Jean Ayres, the founder of sensory integration theory and therapy: occupational therapist, educational psychologist, neuroscientist, lecturer, widely-published researcher, author and practitioner. As a mentor to hundreds of therapists all over the world, Ayres made life better, not just for the children she personally treated, but for thousands of others.

Ayres was interested in explaining how difficulties with receiving and processing sensory information from ones body and environment could relate to difficulties at school or using ones body to engage in everyday life. Ayres developed a theory about what happens when sensory integration does not develop well, she developed a way of assessing these difficulties and a way of treating them. She carried out research to further develop and understand sensory integration and she treated many children with sensory integration difficulties. Since then a number of occupational therapists have continued her work. With new brain imaging techniques, much of what Ayres postulated has been supported.

Dr A Jean Ayres, 1972, photo credit: by family member GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons.

What Part Of The Brain Is Responsible For Sensory Processing


The parietal lobe is located in the middle section of the brain and is associated with processing tactile sensory information such as pressure, touch, and pain. A portion of the brain known as the somatosensory cortex is located in this lobe and is essential to the processing of the body’s senses.

Secondly, what is sensory processing? Sensory processing refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into responses. For those with Sensory Processing Disorder, sensory information goes into the brain but does not get organized into appropriate responses.

In this manner, how is sensory information processed in the brain?

Information processing starts with input from the sensory organs, which transform physical stimuli such as touch, heat, sound waves, or photons of light into electrochemical signals. The sensory information is repeatedly transformed by the algorithms of the brain in both bottom-up and top-down processing.

What is the sequence of sensory processing?

Basically, sensory processing refers to the sequence of events that occurs as we take in and respond to environmental stimulation. In the assessment of handwritingin addition to visual perceptiontactile-proprioceptive, kinesthesia, and praxis aspects require specific attention.

What Does The Brain Do

The brain controls what you think and feel, how you learn and remember, and the way you move and talk. But it also controls things you’re less aware of like the beating of your heart and the digestion of your food.

Think of the brain as a central computer that controls all the body’s functions. The rest of the nervous system is like a network that relays messages back and forth from the brain to different parts of the body. It does this via the spinal cord, which runs from the brain down through the back. It contains threadlike nerves that branch out to every organ and body part.

When a message comes into the brain from anywhere in the body, the brain tells the body how to react. For example, if you touch a hot stove, the nerves in your skin shoot a message of pain to your brain. The brain then sends a message back telling the muscles in your hand to pull away. Luckily, this neurological relay race happens in an instant.

Two Distinct Circuits Drive Inhibition In The Sensory Thalamus Of The Brain

This research offers fundamental insights about sensory thalamic subnetworks and will enable powerful new strategies to probe behavioral and perceptual functions of these distinct circuits.The thalamus is a Grand Central Station for sensory information coming to our brains. Almost every sight, sound, taste and touch we perceive travels to our brains cortex via the thalamus. It is theorized that the thalamus plays a major role in consciousness itself. Not only does sensory information pass through the thalamus, it is also processed and transformed by the thalamus so our cortex can better understand and interpret these signals from the world around us.

One powerful type of transformation comes from interactions between excitatory neurons that carry data to the neocortex and inhibitory neurons of the thalamic reticular nucleus, or TRN, that regulate flow of that data. Although the TRN has long been recognized as important, much less has been known about what kinds of cells are in the TRN, how they are organized and how they function.

Cruikshank is an assistant professor in the University of Alabama at BirminghamDepartment of Neurobiology. The experimental work was done at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, where Cruikshank was a research track professor prior to joining UAB last November.

Support came from National Institutes of Health grants NS100016 and GM103645, and National Science Foundation grants 1738633, 1058262 and 1632738.

Why And How Should We Make Simultaneous Multi

Webinar On Demand: Understanding Sensory Processing Struggles by Brain Balance

The transition from recording from a single site at one time to recording population activity was a meaningful one for systems electrophysiology . Recording from populations allows us to âembrace single-neuron heterogeneityâ , and reveals structure in the signals across multiple neurons that we would not be able to recover any other way, such as their correlated variability , and how population representations change within a subspace over time or depending on context . Recording simultaneously from two or more neurons has advanced theories relating to how different types of ânoise,â or inter-trial variability, affect stimulus discrimination , and how decisions are generated based on the accumulation of evidence .

Most sensory neuroscience is predicated on developing an understanding of how a physical stimulus produces an observed neuronal response. However, beyond the level of our sensory receptors, neurons do not directly respond to sensory stimuli. Rather, they change their membrane potential and generate action potentials in response to precise patterns of inputs, received from a population of synaptically-connected neurons. By recording from connected brain areas, we can use the recordings from the source area to gain a better understanding of the true inputs to the recipient brain area, and how they are transformed in the downstream area.

How Does The Brain Process Information

The human brain is a complicated, creative information-processing system. As technology advanced from primitive to modern, the metaphors used to describe the brain also advanced. Initially, it was compared to a wax tablet, then to a sheet of papyrus, then to a book, and most recently, to a computer. As you learn about the brain, keep in mind that the usefulness of these metaphors is limited and can lead to erroneous conclusions.

Information processing starts with input from the sensory organs, which transform physical stimuli such as touch, heat, sound waves, or photons of light into electrochemical signals. The sensory information is repeatedly transformed by the algorithms of the brain in both bottom-up and top-down processing. For example, when looking at a picture of a black box on a white background, bottom-up processing puts together very simple information such as color, orientation, and where the borders of the object are – where the color changes significantly over a short space – to decide that you are seeing a box. Top-down processing uses the decisions made at some steps of the bottom-up process to speed up your recognition of the box. Top-down processing in this example might help you identify the object as a black box rather than a box-shaped hole in the white background.

How Common Are Sensory Integration Problems

Because sensory integration difficulties can co-occur with other diagnoses , as well as with no other diagnosis at all, its difficult to put an exact figure on the prevalence. One 2009 *study, found that 1 in every 6 children has sensory processing issues that make it hard to learn and function in school. Other studies have found that **66% of autistic children , and 32% of children with special education needs show definite differences in sensory behaviours.

What Are The Parts Of The Brain

The brain has three main sections: the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain.

The Forebrain

The forebrain is the largest and most complex part of the brain. It consists of the cerebrum the area with all the folds and grooves typically seen in pictures of the brain as well as other structures under it.

The cerebrum contains the information that essentially makes you who you are: your intelligence, memory, personality, emotion, speech, and ability to feel and move. Specific areas of the cerebrum are in charge of processing these different types of information. These are called lobes, and there are four of them: the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes.

The cerebrum has right and left halves, called hemispheres. They’re connected in the middle by a band of nerve fibers that lets them communicate. These halves may look like mirror images of each other, but many scientists believe they have different functions:

  • The left side is considered the logical, analytical, objective side.
  • The right side is thought to be more intuitive, creative, and subjective.

So when you’re balancing your checkbook, you’re using the left side. When you’re listening to music, you’re using the right side. It’s believed that some people are more “right-brained” or “left-brained” while others are more “whole-brained,” meaning they use both halves of their brain to the same degree.

In the inner part of the forebrain sits the thalamus, hypothalamus, and :

The Midbrain

The Hindbrain

Seeing The Whole Picture

The Senses

This may seem obvious, but remember that in order to see there must be light. The light rays reflect off of an object and enter the eye, allowing the animal to see the object. The same is true for you! That’s why on a sunny day it’s easy to catch a ball, but on your way to the bathroom at night you bump into things.

Back to your cat, Tabby. She is eating her meal, then suddenly hears a loud bark. Tabby looks up from her food and sees a dog. The light from the kitchen lamp is reflecting off of the dog, entering Tabby’s eye and allowing her to see it. Luckily, Tabby knows this is just the family dog, Rex, and goes back to eating.

Obviously, seeing a predator that could be harmful or even deadly is important for surviving. And being able to see food, water, friends, home and so many more things is important for an animal to live a long, happy life.

Storeroom As An Analogy

We can understand how the human brain stores information by using a simple analogy. Our brain is like a storeroom when we consider memory storage. Like in a store you want to keep the important things on the shelf because in that way they will become easily accessible. Similarly, our brain keeps important things on the surface levels of memory storage. You pay attention to the things that you like, that is why subjects of your interest are easier for you to remember as compared to the things which you do not like.

That is why some people believe that it helps to organize your mind by yourself, by trying to remember only the things which are important and matter to you. In this way, the desired information will always be available on the shelf, just like the sugar you want for your tea.

What Is Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory integration therapy should only be carried out by a qualified SI Practitioner: this is a qualified occupational therapist, speech and language therapist or physiotherapist who has undertaken additional, rigorous postgraduate training in SI. This training involves developing a detailed understanding of the neuroscience and evidence base underpinning sensory integration as well as developing expertise in assessing and providing intervention for people with sensory integration problems.

SI therapy include structured exposure to sensory input, movement therapy, balance treatments, carefully designed and customised physical activities and accommodations . An SI Practitioner may work with the client, their family, carers, school, other allied health professionals or employer to create a sensory diet for that specific client. A sensory diet is a recommended suite of activities and accommodations to help give that individual the sensory input they need.

You can search the SI Practitioners’ Register for therapists who have gained sensory integration qualifications on SIEs UK-university-accredited MSc in SI pathway.

Sensory Integration Recognised As Evidence

The US-based Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, who lead the National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice, have published an updated systematic review of literature related to interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder . The Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder report now recognises sensory integration therapy, specifically Ayres Sensory Integration, as evidence-based practice.

There are several research studies that provide evidence that clinic-based sensory interventions, in particular Ayres Sensory Integration Therapy, may help families achieve their individual goals for their child. Here is a selection:

If you are a researcher, click here to find out about our research support services and grant awards.

Overview Of The Five Senses

Sensory Processing Disorder and Brain Balance
  • B.A., Biology, Emory University
  • A.S., Nursing, Chattahoochee Technical College

The ways we understand and perceive the world around us as humans are known as senses. We have five traditional senses known as taste, smell, touch, hearing, and sight. The stimuli from each sensing organ in the body are relayed to different parts of the brain through various pathways. Sensory information is transmitted from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system. A structure of the brain called the thalamus receives most sensory signals and passes them along to the appropriate area of the cerebral cortex to be processed. Sensory information regarding smell, however, is sent directly to the olfactory bulb and not to the thalamus. Visual information is processed in the visual cortex of the occipital lobe, sound is processed in the auditory cortex of the temporal lobe, smells are processed in the olfactory cortex of the temporal lobe, touch sensations are processed in the somatosensory cortex of the parietal lobe, and taste is processed in the gustatory cortex in the parietal lobe.

Everyday Connections The Field Sobriety Test

The neurological exam has been described as a clinical tool throughout this chapter. It is also useful in other ways. A variation of the coordination exam is the Field Sobriety Test used to assess whether drivers are under the influence of alcohol. The cerebellum is crucial for coordinated movements such as keeping balance while walking, or moving appendicular musculature on the basis of proprioceptive feedback. The cerebellum is also very sensitive to ethanol, the particular type of alcohol found in beer, wine, and liquor.

Walking in a straight line involves comparing the motor command from the primary motor cortex to the proprioceptive and vestibular sensory feedback, as well as following the visual guide of the white line on the side of the road. When the cerebellum is compromised by alcohol, the cerebellum cannot coordinate these movements effectively, and maintaining balance becomes difficult.

Comparison Of Upper And Lower Motor Neuron Damage

Many of the tests of motor function can indicate differences that will address whether damage to the motor system is in the upper or lower motor neurons. Signs that suggest a UMN lesion include muscle weakness, strong deep tendon reflexes, decreased control of movement or slowness, pronator drift, a positive Babinski sign, spasticity, and the clasp-knife response. Spasticity is an excess contraction in resistance to stretch. It can result in hyperflexia, which is when joints are overly flexed. The clasp-knife response occurs when the patient initially resists movement, but then releases, and the joint will quickly flex like a pocket knife closing.

A lesion on the LMN would result in paralysis, or at least partial loss of voluntary muscle control, which is known as paresis. The paralysis observed in LMN diseases is referred to as flaccid paralysis, referring to a complete or partial loss of muscle tone, in contrast to the loss of control in UMN lesions in which tone is retained and spasticity is exhibited. Other signs of an LMN lesion are fibrillation, fasciculation, and compromised or lost reflexes resulting from the denervation of the muscle fibers.

Disorders of theâ¦Spinal Cord

Smell And Taste: The Chemical Senses

The two most underappreciated senses can be lumped into the broad category of chemical senses. Both olfaction and gustation require the transduction of chemical stimuli into electrical potentials. I say these senses are underappreciated because most people would give up either one of these if they were forced to give up a sense. While this may not shock a lot of readers, take into consideration how much money people spend on the perfume industry annually . Many of us pay a lot more for a favorite brand of food because we prefer the taste. Clearly, we humans care about our chemical senses.

How Does Information From Sensory Receptors Get To The Brain

Digital Illustration Of Head In Profile Showing Specific ...

Sensory neurons receive impulses and carry them from the sense organs to the spinal cord or brain. Interneurons connect sensory and motor neurons and interpret the impulse. Motor neurons carry impulses from the brain and spinal cord to muscles or glands.

Secondly, does the brain have sensory receptors? Answer: There are no pain receptors in the brain itself. But he meninges , periosteum , and the scalp all have pain receptors. Your spinal cord is a complex array of nerves, transmitting all kinds of signals to and from the brain at any given time.

Also know, what do our brains do with the information from the sensory receptors?

Each receptor is responsible for picking up sensory information and passing this information to our brain for processing which involves organising, prioritising, understanding and responding to the information.

Where is sensory information processed in the brain?

The parietal lobe is located in the middle section of the brain and is associated with processing tactile sensory information such as pressure, touch, and pain. A portion of the brain known as the somatosensory cortex is located in this lobe and is essential to the processing of the body’s senses.

How Do Brain Areas Communicate With One Another

Information is flexibly and efficiently routed throughout the brain. Here, we define communication as signal propagation that produces a change in the representation by a recipient area. Part of the challenge for achieving inter-area communication is related to signal transmission: a signal must be able propagate reliably throughout the system without excessive attenuation or amplification . This relies on inter-area anatomical connections as well as the network structure within an area . However, there is substantial evidence that successful inter-area communication also requires physiological coordination on millisecond time-scales .

The Four Patterns Of Sensory Processing

Ayubs active movement behaviour at the playground may be classified as sensation seeking. He requires a lot of motion input and actively seeks out motion by climbing to high heights, jumping, and running.

Ayubs body awareness while playing catch may be classified as low registration. Ayub does not have awareness of his force on the ball or his arm and body positioning to catch the ball.

Ayubs sense of smell may be classified as sensation avoiding. He notices smells with a low threshold and avoids the situation by leaving the space.

Finally, Ayubs sense of hearing may be classified as sensory sensitive. Ayub has a low threshold for noises as he becomes easily bothered by the noises of other children, but he does not avoid the situation. Instead he passively becomes frustrated.

Now that you know about each pattern of sensory processing, it is important to understand how this relates to each sense individually, and what can be done to accommodate your childs specific sensory needs. There are tip sheets in this module that detail information and strategies to support sensory processing for each of the seven senses.

Sensory Processing Sensitivity Theory

Chapter 1, The Basics of Sensory Processing Sensitivity, provides a history and overview of SPS, with a mild evolutionary spin. Chapter 2 describes the theoretical foundations of SPS with corresponding self-report measures for assessing SPS in children and adults, and provides their psychometric properties across cultures. Chapter 2 also discusses the existence of sensitivity groups, along with the supporting empirical evidence. Chapter 3 delves even further into theoretical perspectives and research on SPS, introducing the umbrella term, Environmental Sensitivity. Chapter 3 synthesizes the various theoretical frameworks of SPS to provide a current perspective of the field. It also discusses intervention studies and provides some implications of SPS for general public health and for building a diversity-aware society.

Jadzia Jagiellowicz, … Bianca P. Acevedo, in, 2020

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