The vestibular (inner ear and balance), the proprioceptive (spatial awareness), and the visual processing systems make up the majority of all the stimulation to the brain. These three important systems work closely together and directly impact learning, behavior, attention, self regulation and other physiological functions such as sleep patterns, digestion and elimination, heart rate, blood pressure, immune system responses, and muscle tone.
In addition to our sense of balance, the vestibular system acts as a processor of sensory input coming into the brain from the inner ear, eyes, skin, muscles and joints, soles of the feet, palms of the hands and fingertips. It is the first sensory system to develop in utero. Efficient processing and integration of our senses is vital to higher cognitive functioning, emotional regulation, and all around behavior. A person with a weak or imbalanced vestibular system often exhibits: poor balance, difficulty remaining still, low muscle tone, motion sickness, clumsiness, an aversion to heights, poor sense of direction, tactile defensiveness (low tolerance of certain clothes, food textures, etc), and walks or walked on tip toes.
The proprioceptive system works closely with the vestibular system and is strongly related to the sense of touch. Proprioception is the awareness of where your body is in relation to itself, objects, and other people. This sense is constantly receiving stimulation from the environment and sending information to the brain. Someone with poor proprioceptive processing often exhibits: low muscle tone, poor posture, frequent bumping into things or other people, excessive fidgeting, an aversion to heights, and uncoordinated motor planning.
Visual perception is integral to the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. Our sense of balance greatly relies on visual input, and vision is also dependent on the movement of muscles. Detecting light and movement from the environment involves small muscles in the eyes to work in sync together. Thus, inefficiencies of either system can cause visual perception issues such as dyslexia. A person with visual perception deficits may have trouble tracking moving objects, focusing on objects up close and have sensitivity to light.
Each of these physical functions affects cognitive performance. The meaningful movement activities of Think Move Learn focus on improving these sensory systems, motor planning, strength and coordination. Intentional and rhythmic movements stimulate and strengthen these systems leading to greater integration of body and mind.