As children, most of us learn about five basic senses–vision, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. These senses critically supply the brain with information about the world around us; but they’re not the only senses we have. Today, scientists are bringing attention to a different set of perceptive powers–senses that focus less on our world and more on our selves. These lesser-known, but vitally important, senses include proprioception, the vestibular system, and interoception.
Proprioception lets you know the position of your body–whether your arms are outstretched, your legs are crossed, toes are curled, and so forth. To experience this sense in action, close your eyes and touch your hands to your knees. Easy, no? That’s because proprioception gives you a mental map of your body, helping you coordinate movement of its parts.
The vestibular system
This sense helps you stay physically balanced. It also gives you an awareness of your body’s orientation–that is, whether you’re upside down or rightside up. Problems with balance and movement (e.g., when you’ve had too much to drink) arise in part from disturbance to the vestibular system.
Interoception is your brain’s way of keeping tabs on what’s happening inside your body. This sense is responsible for tracking key physiological processes like heart rate and hunger, so that you have a sense of what your body needs. These physical sensations also affect your emotional wellbeing: changes like rapid breathing or a grumbly stomach, for instance, can contribute to feelings of distress.
Research shows that dysregulated interoception can lead to a number of mental and physical problems, including poor sleep, chronic stress, and difficulty focusing. Fortunately, it is possible to improve your sense of interoception and, in doing so, address some of these challenges.
Cove works by activating a brain pathway critical to interoception. With regular use, this pathway becomes stronger, sharpening your interoception and improving your mental wellness.