Sensory Development

Everything humans do involves using one or more senses. It is through the senses that infants discover the world. Without one's senses, the brain would be an eternal prisoner within the confinement of one's skull. Humans experience these sensations through interactions with the environment; interpreting the meaning of these sensations for actions is called sensory processing. When a child uses her senses to discover a new object, she creates a neuronal pathway in the brain. The more often she stimulates her senses from her environment, the more likely she is to create new neuronal pathways and strengthen old neuronal pathways in the brain.

Sensory development begins during gestation and continues throughout childhood. There are seven sensory processes: taste, smell, touch, hearing, seeing, body position sense (called proprioception), and movement sensations (called vestibular input). Below is a brief discussion of each sense, its purpose, and the stages of its development; how infants stimulate their senses; and why sensory stimulation is important for infants.

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