By Thayer Robins 

Anyone who’s soothed a fussing baby knows that gentle rocking often does the trick. The vestibular (balance-related) stimulation that rocking creates is certainly a part of that.

Equally important is the rhythm that comes with rocking. That’s because rhythm, when steady and comfortably paced, has a calming effect on the human nervous system, and a regulating effect on the human brain.

What this rhythmic movement actually regulates is the lower, more primitive region of the brain: the brainstem.

The brainstem comes from our reptilian ancestors. Not only is it the first region to develop, but throughout our lives it acts as the gateway for most incoming and outgoing transmissions. This means that very little travels to or from the higher regions without going through the brainstem.

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