What does sensory processing do?
Sensory processing plays an important part in warning us for danger, focussing our attention and picking up information.
There are three different ways in which we can respond to sensory information.
- A sensory stimulus gives off a signal which causes us to focus our attention to that stimulus. This allows us to perceive a stimulus and we can react to it. In this way we focus our attention on something, gather information and we learn new things.
- Some sensory stimuli give off a stronger signal than others, because they entail a larger threat. A smell of fire warns us in a way different from the smell of freshly made coffee. If a stimulus warns us for danger we come into action in order to bring ourselves into safety. Our attention is fully focussed on the dangerous situation, and gathering information is no longer of any importance.
- A sensory stimulus can also give a very weak signal, we do not focus on this information and we do not perceive it at all. We do not gather information from such a sensory stimulus.
Every sensory stimulus gives us a choice on how to react. Fortunately this is an unconscious process most of the time, so we do not have to think about it.
The sense of balance and the tactile sense play an important part in the process of focussing our attention and warning for danger. They make sure that we do not fall, and that the ground we stand, sit or lie on, is stable enough. Only if we cannot fall is it safe to move. By moving we get information from our muscles and joints about body position and movements. This makes moving pleasant and causes moving to be “fun”. It also makes you pay attention to what you are doing, and enables you to learn new things.