What is it?
Everything in the universe oscillates to a frequency, or a rhythm, from nanoseconds in electrons, to years in solar bodies. Living organisms rely on oscillations for life, as well – sleep-wake cycles, hormonal fluctuations, heart and lung function and more. (1) Rhythm is critical to our being. The brain is no exception. Neurological systems also oscillate on a short range (cellular level) to long range (global networks).
Being able to interact optimally with our environment requires us to process and relay sensory information accurately and in sync. This is particularly important for speech processing (2), but also is crucial for things like behavior, learning, walking, and creating neuroplasticity. Without this synchronicity, our world would be unimaginable.
Why is it important?
In neurological context, sensory motor entrainment is thought to occur in a very complex and integrated area of the brain called your cortico-striatal-thalamo-cortical system. This system is responsible for allowing you to perceive your world, think about it, and interact with it. If this system is not working well, you might have fogginess, ADHD, anxiety, cognitive issues, sensory-sensitivity, incoordination, emotional instability and more.
How does it work?
In the late 1800s, a Dutch psychologist named Dr. Huygens, noticed that clocks placed on the same table would synchronize, but if removed from the same table, they would not. (3) This was later identified as the discovery of entrainment, a ubiquitous term in rehabilitation and learning. What Dr. Huygens later explained is that one strong oscillating body or structure, if connected by a medium (whether that be energy or matter), can entrain a weaker body or structure- whether that “body” is the moon oscillating around the earth, or specific areas of your brain.
How does it help?
Further evidence has demonstrated that wide ranges of neurological conditions are capable from benefiting from entrainment therapies, particularly because neither attention to the stimuli, nor voluntary motor function is required (7). Individuals that might not be conscious, be able to move voluntarily, or those with severe attention issues might still benefit from sensory-entrainment therapies.
So how might PlasticityⓇ Centers help improve sensory-motor entrainment, and overall neurological function? Our clinical teams may choose to combine various sensory and motor therapies, which also incorporate rhythm and repetition, or technologies in our treatment plans. This might be as simple as performing a task to a metronome on an iPad, to implementing computer-controlled, interactive timing technologies.