Sensory Integration & Our 3 Primary Senses

Blogger Pip Else - Paediatric OT

13th October 2016

Sensory Integration

Our 3 Primary Senses


Remember the thriving tree of sensory integration from our last blog? Well it's back again to explain why our primary senses are so important.


Cognition   ♦  Development   ♦  Sensory Integration


Proprioception     Vestibular     Tactile




What is it?

Proprioception is the ability to know where our body is in space. We have to know where our bodies are in order to move and complete co-ordinated actions. All activities require differing amounts of force in order to complete a task successfully.

Our proprioceptive system is situated in our muscles and is often referred to as the stretch and contraction of our muscles. The information detected in our muscles is sent to our brains to be organised so we know how to complete an activity. Hence proprioceptive processing is vital for learning new skills.

An example of proprioceptive processing for adults; can you remember learning to drive? It takes time; our body has to learn how much pressure to apply on the brake pedal whilst learning how to use our hand/arm on the gear stick without looking. This is exactly the same for children when they develop; they gradually learn to develop the correct force in order to complete activities in a required manner and in a coordinated way.

If you want more information why not access the below link



What isVestibular it?

Our Vestibular system is situated in our inner ear; it detects movements of our head which help inform our posture and body position. The vestibular system detects speed including deceleration and acceleration of movement.

There are different movements which the vestibular system detects,. These are rotational movement (Spinning) and Linear movement (backwards and forwards).

Rotational movement: can be very exciting for the nervous system.

Linear movement: can be calming.

This is why the vestibular system has such an impact on our arousal levels, attention and functioning during the day.

If you want more information why not access the below link




What is it?Tactile

Our tactile system is all the skin that covers our body; we have different areas of our bodies which detect more tactile sensation than others. For example our face/mouth has many more nerve ends then our thigh. This is best described by using the homunculus. See the link.

Our tactile system links very closely with our Proprioceptive system and is collectively called the somatosensory system. We have two different types of tactile systems these are:

Protective System: Detect pain and temperature, this is a survival based response and will allow us to move our hand and body away from threat.

Discriminative System: Tells us about the size, shape, texture and location of items. For example, our ability to know we have a pound coin in our hand when feeling in our pocket. This is our proprioceptive system and tactile system working together to understand the size, and weight of the object.

If you want more information why not access the below link


If you would like any further information about Sensory Integration, do not hesitate to call the office 01664 567917 and we can arrange for you to have a chat with an Occupational therapist.