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The Five Senses
Touch: The physiological sense by which external objects or forces are perceived through
contact with the body (Www.Thefreedictionary.Com, p. touch). Touch is a perception resulting from activation of neural receptors, generally in the skin including hair follicles, but also in the tongue, throat, and mucosa (Http://en.Wikipedia.Org/Wiki/, p. Somatosensory_system). Our sense of touch is controlled by a huge network of nerve endings and touch receptors in the skin known as the somatosensory system. It is a diverse sensory system composed of the receptors and processing centers to produce the sensory modalities such as touch, temperature, proprioception (body position), and nociception (pain). The sensory receptors cover the skin and epithelia, skeletal muscles, bones and joints, internal organs, and the cardiovascular system. While touch is considered one of the five traditional senses, the impression of touch is formed from several modalities.
Anatomy of Touch The somatosensory system is responsible for all the sensations we feel - cold, hot, smooth, rough, pressure, tickle, itch, pain, vibrations, and more. Within the somatosensory system, there are four main types of receptors: mechanoreceptors, thermoreceptors, pain receptors, and proprioceptors (Http://Www.Hometrainingtools.Com/Skin-Touch/a/1388/).
Sense of Touch - Page 1 of 6
and Pacinian corpuscles. They are found in the dermis layer of the skin. tendons. are found in the very top layers of the dermis and epidermis and are generally found in non-hairy skin such as the palms. This is why feet or hands start to go numb when they are submerged in icy water for a long period of time. The highest concentration of thermoreceptors can be found in the face and ears (hence why nose and ears always get colder faster than the rest of the body on a chilly winter day). Merkel's disks and Meissner's corpuscles. lips. Merkel's disks are slowly adapting receptors and Meissner's corpuscles are rapidly adapting receptors so the skin can perceive both when we are touching something and how long the object is touching the skin. and texture. There are four known types of mechanoreceptors whose only function is to perceive indentions and vibrations of the skin: Merkel's disks. The most sensitive mechanoreceptors. Hot receptors start to perceive hot sensations when the surface of the skin rises above 86º F and are most stimulated at 113º F. vibrations. and muscles are Ruffini's corpuscles and Pacinian corpuscles. Ruffini's corpuscles. "Noci-" in Latin means "injurious" or "hurt": these receptors detect pain or stimuli that may cause damage to the skin and other tissues of the body. This greatly aids our ability to do physical activities such as walking and playing ball. rotational movement of limbs. There are over Sense of Touch .Page 2 of 6 . and the face. soles of feet. tongue. Thermoreceptors perceive sensations related to the temperature of objects the skin feels. eyelids. There are two basic categories of thermoreceptors: hot and cold receptors. but cold receptors are found in greater density than heat receptors. Cold receptors start to perceive cold sensations when the surface of the skin drops below 95º F. Pain receptors (nociceptors). Located deeper in the dermis and along joints. Thermoreceptors are found all over the body. These mechanoreceptors can feel sensations such as vibrations traveling down bones and tendons. fingertips. They are most stimulated when the surface of the skin is at 77º F and are no longer stimulated when the surface of the skin drops below 41º F. Our brain gets an enormous amount of information about the texture of objects through our fingertips because the ridges that make up our fingerprints are full of these sensitive mechanoreceptors.Biology Report Mechanoreceptors perceive sensations such as pressure. But beyond 113º F. pain receptors take over to avoid damage being done to the skin and underlying tissues. Meissner's corpuscles. and the stretching of skin.
When the touch. passing along the electrical pulse from neuron to neuron until it reaches the spinal cord. For example. The spinal cord takes the incoming signal and sends it to the brain.D. blood vessels. Touch is also vital for our health from a different perspective. As humans we need touch. They also have receptors that cause a dull pain in an area that has been injured to encourage us not to use or touch that limb or body part until the damaged area has healed. Their location in the body allows these special cells to detect changes in muscle length and muscle tension. the sides of the tongue have a lot of nerve endings that are very sensitive to pain. they send electrical pulses to the neurons. thermal stimuli (burn). the tongue is not as good at sensing hot or cold. They can detect pain that is caused by mechanical stimuli (cut or scrape). A Primer on Touch). special cells that relay electrochemical impulses (A. The fingertips are also very sensitive. Processing primarily occurs in the primary somatosensory area in the parietal lobe of the cerebral cortex. Without proprioceptors. muscles. These receptors cause a feeling of sharp pain to encourage us to quickly move away from a harmful stimulus such as a broken piece of glass or a hot stove stop. Babies who do not receive enough touch may not live. bones. The sensory neurons then act as a relay team. pain or heat sensors in the skin are stimulated. They play an important role in keeping the body safe from serious injury or damage by sending these early warning signals to the brain.Biology Report three million pain receptors throughout the body. people who are blind use their fingertips to read Braille by feeling the patterns of raised dots on their paper. Proprioceptors: In Latin. we would not be able to do fundamental things such as feeding or clothing ourselves. However. and some organs. Babies with more touch will grow to be healthier both physically and psychologically ("Touching your children is a wonderful way to talk").M.Page 3 of 6 . and joint capsules. the word "proprius" means "one's own": these receptors sense the position of the different parts of the body in relation to each other and the surrounding environment. Once the brain receives the signal from the spinal cord. Proprioceptors are found in tendons. found in skin. Sense of Touch . it translates the electrical signal (Hancock. 1996. Some areas of the body are more sensitive than others because they have more nerve endings. muscles.A.). For example. p. or chemical stimuli (poison from an insect sting). or may develop psychological problems. Physiology of Touch Transmission of information from the receptors passes via sensory nerves through tracts in the spinal cord and into the brain.
or numbness of the skin that may result from nerve damage and may be permanent or temporary (en. there is little midlife loss of sensitivity. Shivering is a way your body has of trying to get warmer. face. If we hug an old friend. Touch affected by advancing age? Touch in old age is just beginning to be studied at Hopkins's Krieger Mind/Brain Institute. Nevertheless. neck. There are about 100 touch receptors in each of your fingertips. Study 2 confirmed that sensory abnormalities are pervasive and multimodal and persistent across age and ability in children and adults with autism (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. If we have touched something very cold. a study showed that over 90% of children with autism had sensory abnormalities and had sensory symptoms in multiple sensory domains. Abnormalities Tactile anesthesia is the loss or impairment of the ability to feel anything touched. most people have about 50 touch receptors per square millimeter of skin. it's known that people lose receptors.Biology Report If the pain receptors have sent a message saying that we grasped something too hot. Also.org p wiki/Sense). Rattlesnakes use their skin to feel the body heat of other animals. Interesting facts: • • • • • • You have more pain nerve endings than any other type. At age 10. At 50.wikipedia. v37 n5 p894-910 May 2007). The most sensitive areas of your body are your hands. we have about 10. Paresthesia is a sensation of tingling. So far. pricking. At age 50. Group differences between children with autism and clinical comparison children were found in the total number of symptoms and in specific domains of smell/taste and vision. but preliminary results show a 50 percent loss in touch acuity by age 70 or so. tongue. the brain knows the cold receptors have been activated and we will probably shiver in response. The least sensitive part of your body is the middle of your back. lips. our brain will tell us to let go of it real quick. Sense of Touch . For instance. when we wrap a heated cotton towel around our body after stepping out of the sauna. the brain will sense the pressure of the hug around the shoulders or body. fingertips and feet. The brain can combine messages from sensory receptors. we are using both pressure and temperature receptors.Page 4 of 6 . there are still more receptors than nerve fibers.
coordination.Page 5 of 6 .80% regaining of normal sensation over the affected area and persisted without any regression in a 6 month follow up (http://www. Yingxiang L. receptive language.co. clinical trial of acupuncture for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder demonstrates that a series of 12 acupuncture treatments using electro-acupuncture improves functions in children with autism.jcm. Juliao ST-3.uk). clinical trial of acupuncture for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Improvements in motor coordination include better writing ability. Shenmen (HT7). Electro-acupuncture caused improvements in language comprehension and self-care ability for the children in this randomized. sham-controlled. YinTang (EX-NH3). The attack involved the maxillary branch of trigeminal nerve on the left side of the face. Interesting motor improvements include better walking posture. Because of the involvement of nasal branches.Biology Report APPENDIX . 2. A 5 day treatment resulted in 75. Sense of Touch . and the patient presented numbness and hypoesthesia over the left side of the face between the nasal bone and zygomatic prominence laterally extended downward from nasolabial fold to corner of left upper lip. 2010 Jul. Kouheliao L. Point prescription: Sishencong (EX-HN1). Electro-acupuncture also caused significant improvements in social initiation. and attention span. on the left side of face only. Renzhong DU26. double-blind.). The patient had previously undergone a variety of treatments including long courses of neurotropics and steroids without any significant result. sham-controlled. The acupuncture treatment involved Quanliao SI-18.-20.-19. and Sanyinjiao (SP6) were selected as complementary acupuncture points. and Ear shenmen (TF4) were chosen as the primary acupuncture points. there was a stuffy sensation in the nose on left side. double-blind.15(2):136-46. speed of walking.I.Acupuncture treatment of abnormalities 1. Improved sensory integration in autism: A randomized. TaiChong (LV3). motor skills. (Altern Med Rev. Dicang ST-4. Shang ying xiang (Ex HN 8). Ear naodian (AT3). and ability to ascend and descend stairs. Post herpetic hypoesthesia A case study described by The Journal of Chinese Medicine reports the successful treatment of Post herpetic hypoesthesia in a 26 year old male. Neiguan (PC6).I.
com/skin-touch/a/1388/.org/health_info/body_guide/reftext/html/nerv_sys_fin. Retrieved December 3. from Home Training Tools.html.jcm. 2011. Hancock. from www. Chen WX. Www. from http://www.edu/jhumag/996web/touch.Thefreedictionary. 2011. from http://www. China. New York. Http://Www. 2011. en. Retrieved December 3. from Children's Mercy Hospitals & Clinics: http://www.healthcmi. from www. v37 n5 p894-910 May 2007.D.php/acupuncturist-news-online/317acupuncturechildrenautism2340983 Retrieved December 3.Hometrainingtools.co. Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2011 from http://www.com/index.healthcmi. http://www. E. 2011. Wong VC.thefreedictionary. The University of Hong Kong.A. touch Retrieved December 3. In Johns Hopkins magazine. 2011 from http://www.gov Somatosensory_system. September 1).Com.Com/Skin-Touch/a/1388/ Retrieved December 3. Sense of Touch . 2011 from http://en. A primer on touch.Springer.com Altern Med Rev.org/hkc/topic/View. 2011.asp?id=148.uk http://www. (1996.15(2):136-46. Touching your children is a wonderful way to talk.com. from http://en.jhu. Ltd: http://www.html.eric.M. 2011.childrensmercy. p. 2011.wikipedia. M.ed. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.Biology Report References A. Retrieved December 3.wikipedia. NY Retrieved December 3.org/wiki/Sense Gregory.org/wiki/. Queen Mary Hospital.co.jcm. 2010 Jul.uk/case-histories/case-history/post-herpetic-hypoaesthesia-treated-byacupuncture-1237/ Retrieved December 3..wikipedia.hometrainingtools.Page 6 of 6 .org p wiki/Sense Retrieved December 3.pennmedicine. Randomized controlled trial of electro-acupuncture for autism spectrum disorder. Retrieved December 3. Hong Kong.
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