Signals and Interpretation: Our sensory system

In a previous article I wrote about the basic workings of the nervous system being input, interpretation/decision-making and output. The quality of the input from the sensory part of our nervous system will have a major influence on the interpretation and decision making made by the brain, and consequently the output or performance by the body when acting upon our environment. As some say “Garbage in equals garbage out”. Therefore lack of, contradictory, or poor sensory input to the brain will affect our performance in life.

The input comes from our three major sensory systems: Vision, Vestibular/Inner Ear/Balance and Proprioception. The word proprioception can be used differently depending on who’s definition you read. For now I am using it in the most general way and am therefore including all the sensors in the body that give the brain information about what is happening. Some of the information these sensors relay are from: thermal (warm, cold), position and movement of the body, vibration, tickle, itch, pressure, chemical, and noxious input. Lack of sensory information from a part of the body can have an effect on that area or even the whole body. This will often show up as decrease ability of the muscles to contract. Also, if the brain is getting mixed messages from the two eyes or the right and left inner ear, there can also be a dampening down of output.

One of the ways the brain dampens output is by creating pain. As mentioned in a previous article this is often done by using old pain pathways because they are already established. This is why ongoing assessment of the different sensory systems is so important to our well-being and our ability to perform to the level we would like to in life. In the bonus section for this newsletter I am offering a way of assessing a few aspects of your Proprioceptive sensory system. These assessments can be used to pick up any imbalances in sensation before they become a major issue involving decreased performance and pain.