Powerful Skin & Connective Touch

October 3, 2014

NEED TO KNOW

Tactile Input: The sensory feeling you experience when you touch a person or an object.

Tactile Feedback: The sensory feeling you experience when a person or object touches you.

 

Through the perception of touch in our skin we become aware of information valuable for our basic bodily functions and we prepare our body to react to stimulation.

 

The skin is one of the largest single organs in the body. For the average adult male it covers eighteen square feet, and weights about 3.7 kilos which is 6 -8 % of the total body weight.

Both the amount and complexity of the skin's activities are enormous. An area of skin the size of an average coin contains some three million cells, one hundred sweat glands, fifty nerve endings, ninety two centimeters of blood vessels, and nearly as many lymph vessels. 

Our skin, amongst its many physiological functions, is also a sensory organ -a varied and constantly active source of sensations in the body. The whole skin has approximately six hundred and forty thousand sensory receptors that are connected to the spinal cord by over half a million nerve fibers. These sensory receptors are valuable to our proprioceptive ability.

 

Proprioception, also often referred to as the forgotten sixth sense, was developed by the nervous system as a mean to keep track of and control the different parts of the body. It produces a tremendous amount of data, as much or more than all the other senses combined. It consists of the perception of limb, body and head movement characteristics, the sense of the relative position of parts of the body and the strength of effort being employed in movement. 

 

 

Touch is classified in physiological terms as part of the proprioceptive system. This system is composed of receptors that, mostly unconsciously, receive information and provide updates about temperature, the sense of touch and placement of an object. The specific small sensory receptors that are located in the muscles, tendons, and joints inform our nervous system, consequently our brain, about how much tension or pressure is being applied to them, and how quickly it’s changing. The brain uses this information to understand how hard your biceps are contracting, how bent your knee is while climbing up the stairs, how long a step you’ve taken,etc. It tells you the size of something held in your arms, by their position, and the effort needed to lift a glass of water according to your muscular ability. 

An example to better understand this sensory system is by showing what happens if this sensory system is no longer there.  Without proprioception, the brain cannot feel what the body is doing, and each tiny movement must be carried out in more conscious and calculated steps. That could not only be time consuming, but also higly dysfunctional.

 

This sensory information forms the base of mobility, alertness and perception of our organism. The mental and physical functioning of a person relies on this information. The strong connection between the central nervous system and the skin base it's roots when an embryo starts to develop, since the exact same cells are used to form both the skin and the brain. Knowing that this connection exists could be considered a significant step towards self-knowledge.

 

Touch in somAnatomics: We learn how to respond to the sensations of touch and begin to develop awareness of your body through skin, muscles and organs.

 

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