When treatment in a multi-sensory environment (MSE) follows the Attunement Solutions Dynamics Approach protocol, entrainment is the behavioral shift that occurs when neural synchronization prepares the nervous system for a new sensory perception of a client’s current environment. Dynamic systems theory began educating the world on this sensory perceptual phenomenon in a strange way. It began when a Dutch physicist named Christiaan Huygens discovered in 1893 that, the rhythm of two pendulum clocks would synchronize if they were sitting on the same table.
In the context of MSE treatment, sensory entrainment may be thought of as the behavioral shift that can be observed when neurons in the brain of a client who is too anxious to trust, or too disengaged to pay attention, shift into temporal alignment with the sensory information coming from their personally-preferred environment. Since temporal regularity or rhythmic timing influences a person’s ability to adapt to their current environment, treatment in an MSE expands a client’s possibilities for perceiving their environment more clearly.
What does this mean for a therapist working with a client in an MSE? It means that, when a disengaged client hears music and perceives visual effects that have the potential to be rhythmically synchronized by the brain, they can become more attentive to their environment. It also means that, when an anxious client hears music and perceives visual effects that have the potential to be rhythmically synchronized by the brain, they can feel more comfortable in their environment.
In both treatment contexts, it is the adaptive response of sensory entrainment in the brain that prepares the client for better adaptive learning. Whether a client is depressed and disengaged or anxious and defensive, when their brain synchronizes the rhythm of music and visual effects through an adaptive response, their behavior shifts into greater and more comfortable connectedness with their current environment. This means they have a positive shift in perceptual receptivity. This is why research on the Attunement Solutions Dynamics Approach to treatment in an MSE published in 2017, demonstrated a significant shift of a client with advanced dementia into greater awareness of her physical and social environment for greater adaptive learning capacity.