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Neuron tree.jpg

Dendritic Arbor

by Sandra Van Nest

This is a neuron.  The nervous system uses the system of individual neurons to communicate across the body.  Notice the branchlike sections to the left and right.  This is called the dendritic arbor. The wider and more complicated the dendritic arbor is, the more efficiently the communication flows through the body.

Generally, both sides of a neuron would be symmetrical. 

This artwork demonstrates what could be.  To the left we see a stylized dendritic arbor of a person that is calm and secure.  The dendritic arbor is full of branches.


  When a body is stressed, the branches are pruned and look more like the right side of the painting.  There are fewer branches and therefore less opportunity for messages to successfully make it through to the next neuron. 

It takes moments for the dendritic arbor to prune itself.  

And only a few days for it to grow back.

By creating a situation for ourselves and our children to maintain sensory regulation, we encourage our bodies to maintain the dedritic arbor.  We can literally help our bodies work more efficiently.  

Just like the four seasons of the year represented in this painting we go through cycles of growth and pruning.  

This is natural.

And while stress is inevitable and so is transition, 

we have lots of tools for growth.

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