Why do I feel jittery when I’m nervous or stressed?

In our unweighted tuning fork training, we focus on two primarily methods of working with the nervous system with tuning forks providing vibration while held off the body. One way to introduce vibration is through the auditory system with tuning forks held near the ears in either a monaural configuration (both ears receive the same sounds) or a binaural configuration where two separate frequencies are introduced into each ear to allow the brain to detect the difference or interval.

The second way to introduce vibration is through the skin so our nervous system can detect the vibration through specialized nerve endings. This type of input is the subject of this post.

Neuroscientists have determined that our brain must be able to create its own image of our body in space by generating a 3 dimensional representation of where each part of our body located at any given moment. Through proprioceptive sensors underneath our skin and located in specific parts of our body, the brain can attempt to match what it perceives as an accurate representation and use this information to adjust musculo-skeletal movements and all of the requirements associated with correct movement and appropriate posture.

Sometimes the feedback mechanisms between muscles and the brain can be interrupted or the brain incorrectly believes a part of the body is positioned in a specific 3D location in space. Just as with any complex system, there is a process in place for the processing system to sense if there is a disparity between where something should be and where it is actually located.

In my many life experiences, I have seen this calibration process play out in the sound equipment I operated and repaired in the Navy, with the robotics and automation systems I learned about in college, and in the building automation systems where I worked with Siemens Building Technologies Division. In all of these situations, there was a common effect that occurred when a moving object was out of calibration with the processor because the feedback signal loop was not synchronized.

The common result was generally referenced as a short cycle, but neuroscientists will call it “jitter” when our muscle fibers continue to adjust at a rapid rate. We feel jittery when this effect occurs within our nervous system, and the cause is sometimes associated with a timing variance between signals going out to the muscles and the signals being received from the various feedback mechanisms in our sensory system.

One neuroscientist and biophysicist named William Softky wrote a paper with his wife Criscillia Benford titled “Sensory Metrics of Neuromechanical Trust” where they believe that one cause to a neuro-timing issue is due to the 2 dimensional screens we use to represent our world and create our brain’s representation in a 3D world. Our brain requires complex inputs from many sensors to identify our real environment, and constant input from a less chaotic 2D screen does not allow our inner calibration system to adjust our 3D body.

We use the unweighted tuning forks to help re-calibrate the body’s representation in 3D space by sending less chaotic vibrations into very specific proprioceptive sensors in our skin designed to detect vibration as its communication system. This is the true nature of “tuning” the body by reminding the brain of where the body is in space and recalibrating the feedback mechanisms to calm down the jittery effect.