Sensory processing is the ability of the brain to interpret, organise and respond appropriately to information received from the eight sensory systems in the body. It is an automatic response, which helps us to cope with all the demands of the daily environment. All of the information received about the world comes to us from our senses i.e., taste, smell, sight, sound, also from our sense of touch, movement, the force of gravity and body position.

All of our senses have receptors that pick up information which is sent to our brain to put together and understand. Cells in our skin send information about light touch, pain, temperature and pressure. Our inner ear detects movement and changes in the position of our head. Receptors in our muscles, tendons and joints give us awareness of our body position. Our internal organs have receptors which enables us to identify our internal state e.g. when we are thirsty, hungry or full, when we need to use the toilet, when we are tired, feeling nauseous, feeling hot or cold.

The eight sensory systems include:

  • Visual (light, darkness, colour, movement)
  • Auditory (sound, pitch, volume of noise)
  • Tactile (touch sensations)
  • Olfactory (smell)
  • Gustatory (taste)
  • Vestibular (movement and balance)
  • Proprioception (enables us to identify our body position in space, location of our limbs and body without looking)
  • Interoception (internal senses which allows us to recognise our internal state e.g. when we are hungry, thirsty, need the toilet)