A Model of Sensory Learning
“The child’s first answer in life is a motor reaction and the advancement of his/her early life and his/her intelligence can be measured in motor reactions. Later symbolic comprehension builds on the basis that was created by the child’s world of movement.” Hottiger, 1980.
The motor system works in unity with the sensory system. Sensory-motor integration is the basis of all movement. The act of movement is started by the senses and the feedback regulates the strength and accuracy of the movement:
Motor coordination is gained by an analysis of sensory information from the outside environment (vision, hearing, depth, spatial orientation, direction and rhythm) and from the inner body environment (joint, muscle, proprioception-the feel of where our body parts are in space when our eyes are closed, kinethesis-moving without the need for vision). The information gained from the inner-outer environment and the constant correction during executing tasks is the sensory learning model.
These are monitored by connections between:
- proprioceptive senses in the spinal cord
- medulla oblongata-tongue and pharynx control and the attachment to the vestibular system for the centre of body posture and position and balance and regulation of muscle tone
- The bridge where large tracts connect for eye muscle and facial muscle movement. Also the large Medial Longitudinal Fasiculus coordinating eye movements with muscle control of the neck, head and body posture. These are organised into the cerebellar-vestibular motor system in the brainstem
- The cerebellum, the harmonizer between the cortex and the periphery
- The pons and largest nuclei of the extrapyramidal system
- Cortical connections namely the premotor cortex providing the kinetic melody of the movement by organising the sequence, flow and timing, starting and ending of a movement
The working of the programme on the vestibular cerebellar system of the brainstem together the basal ganglia and on the cortical systems to formulate motor coordination enhances the basic mechanism of learning.
Language processing in the brain can be divided into three units according to place and function.
There is a set of systems on both sides of the brain that processes non-linguistic interaction between the body and its environment through mediation of sensory and motor systems (all we do, feel, understand, think, etc.). The brain not only arranges these non-linguistic engrams (shape, colour and sequence of objects or emotional states ) into categories but creates a new level. This way we are able to organize the system and relationship of objects and events. Then layers of categories and symbolic representations provide the basis of thinking in abstract concepts and metaphors.
This is a neural structure usually located in the left hemisphere that carries out the recall of phonemes, phoneme combinations and the linguistic rules necessary for creating words. Here words are formed and sentences are constructed as a reaction to stimuli coming from inside the brain, then these words are uttered or written down. The linguistic signs of a conceived speech or read text are also started to be processed in these systems.
This unit is also located in the left hemisphere and mediates between the other two units: it either picks a concept and urges for word formation or makes the brain to recall the appropriate concept after hearing or reading a word.
When the child learns the form of the word “yellow” the neural system of word formation and the motor tract are activated on both the cortical and subcortical pathways and the functioning of these areas are connected with the function of the semantics of colour concepts and the areas mediating between concepts and language. The system projecting the concept formation establishes a more direct way to the basal ganglia after a while. The formation of the word “yellow” no longer requires the participation of the posterior part of the Sylvius sulcus. When we again learn “yellow” in a foreign language, the posterior part of the Sylvius sulcus is required to function actively.
Damage at the frontal part of the Sylvius sulcus causes disorder in the grammatical functions of both speech and comprehension. This area appears to control the organization of the parts of the sentence. The task of the basal ganglia is to allow the elements of a complex movement into one smooth and steady movement. The basal ganglia appears to play a similar role in structuring the words into sentences.
The use of a motor programme may be used to help with the language connections through the basal ganglia and the connections between cortical speech areas and the cerebellum.