Somato Sensory Overload

Symptoms of sensory defensiveness can be to high pitched noises, chewing sounds, lights, sudden touch, intolerance to fabrics, smells, difficulty with eye contact, intolerance to foods, tastes, texture or temperature and difficulty when exposed to a lot of sensory stimuli at once. This sensory stimuli provokes a fight or flight response. Those diagnosed with ADHD have higher rates of hypersensitivity to stimulus. Autism also increases hypersensitivity, especially to sound. Sensory overload can lead to a “meltdown” or temper tantrum. Some people experience dissociation which causes them to withdraw.

Sensory overload is quite common in today’s fast paced world by people, places, events, over scheduling, etc. A common complaint is lack of motivation, depression, being in a rut, being distracted or a sense of losing one’s purpose in life. It becomes difficult for the client to stay focused on their goals to produce relaxation, self satisfaction and self esteem.

We access the neural emotional pathways to redirect the scattered energy to the parasympathetic nervous system where total relaxation is experienced. The client can then better focus on their goals, desires and interests.

We can do this by phone and in person.

Anterior Cingulate Gyrus and Goal Directed Behavior

The anterior cingulate gyrus seems to decide which behavior is appropriate and what we should be paying attention to by monitoring conflict, pain, problems, errors, etc.

Neural pathways have been identified for reintepretation of frontal lobe lesions with visceral & endocrine involvement in the hippocampus, amygdala, caudate nucleus. parietal lobe and temporal regions of the cortex. When there is not permanent impairment in the frontal lobe, scientists have found fronto-hypothalamic connections of feedback association with multimodal processing areas of the parietal lobe in and near the frontal eye field. This can be seen in spatial delayed alternation tests. Also seen is the capacity to integrate auditory, visual, & kinesthetic information impaired by lesions in the general area of the frontal eye field.

Anterior cingulate has a role in premotor function and some cognitively demanding processes which are associated with affect. The anterior cingulate cortex is involved in skeletal & visceromotor systems & response selection. It is also part of the limbic system that are engaged in initiating behaviors related to motivational significance of sensory stimuli, & cognitively demanding processing not requiring movement and retrieving short term memory.

The cingulate provides a mechanism by which affect and intellect can be joined. A select group of forebrain structures including anterior cingulate cortex are involved in affect and regulating context relevant motor behaviors.

A PET study showed transient sadness or happiness are associated with elevated blood flow in the anterior cingulate gyrus.

Relationship of Amygdala to Fear and Pain

Amygdala is the name of a collection of nuclei found in the anterior portion of the temporal lobe. It receives projections from the frontal cortex, association cortex, temporal lobe, olfactory system and other parts of the limbic system. It sends afferants to frontal, prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus and brainstem nuclei.

The amygdala when confronted with fearful sensory input from the outside as well as from viscera inside sends signals through the hippocampus and the amygdala and shuts down the periaquaductal grey centers. At this juncture, the fear affects eyesight, muscles, fascia, TMJ, and the systems of breathing and autonomic functioning.

The sensory pathways diverge, one going to the amygdala and the other to the cortex. In the cortex we analyze fear, although once an emotion is turned on, it is difficult for the cortex to turn it off.

Recent brain imaging and neuroscience research have revealed the pathways to create resolution, decision making, modulating and expression of these stressors for new found freedom from fear and panic, pain, and conflict which lead to states of joy, satisfaction and increased brain functioning.

Goals and Reticular Activating System

The mind learns to ignore meaningless signals while focusing on others. The Reticular Activating System consists of brain parts that are responsible for survival instincts. The brainstem is the axis of nervous system where signals of viscera, internal milieu, vestibular organs and musculoskeletal frame work together within a collection of nuclei. It is important in context of respiration, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal functions when control depends on the integration of this information.

The RAS is a region of the pons and is involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, and filtering incoming stimuli to block irrelevant stimuli.

<h3>The RAS consists of neural networks with various function which include:</h3>

  1. Somatic motor control. Axons travel to rectospinal tracts of the spinal cord and maintain tone, balance and posture. It integrates eye & ear signals through cerebellum for motor coordination.
  2. Cardiovascular control.
  3. Sleep and consciousness.
  4. Habituation-process by which the brain learns to ignore meaningless stimuli while remaining sensitive to others.


The thalomocortical system has outgoing signals in the thalamus and all areas of the cortex. Coordinating the activity of the thalamus, cingulate gyrus, prefrontal cortex and brainstem regulate consciousness through our executive attention.

Positive feedback signals through iterative algorhythms is carried out in the thalamocortical loop and receives experimental confirmation by about 40 hertz. As a result of corticothalamic iteration, the thalamic pattern of activity is sent back to the cortex as an enhanced view of the world. This positive feedback loop of seeing and experiencing success motivates the movement needed to accomplish a particular outcome.