The Five Senses: Touch

Published: 2021-06-29 07:10:01
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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/).

Mechanoreceptors perceive sensations such as pressure, vibrations, and texture. There are four known types of mechanoreceptors whose only function is to perceive indentions and vibrations of the skin: Merkel's disks, Meissner's corpuscles, Ruffini's corpuscles, and Pacinian corpuscles.
The most sensitive mechanoreceptors, Merkel's disks and Meissner's corpuscles, are found in the very top layers of the dermis and epidermis and are generally found in non-hairy skin such as the palms, lips, tongue, soles of feet, fingertips, eyelids, and the face. 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. 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.
Located deeper in the dermis and along joints, tendons, and muscles are Ruffini's corpuscles and Pacinian corpuscles. These mechanoreceptors can feel sensations such as vibrations traveling down bones and tendons, rotational movement of limbs, and the stretching of skin. This greatly aids our ability to do physical activities such as walking and playing ball.
Thermoreceptors perceive sensations related to the temperature of objects the skin feels. They are found in the dermis layer of the skin. There are two basic categories of thermoreceptors: hot and cold receptors.
Cold receptors start to perceive cold sensations when the surface of the skin drops below 95º F. 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. This is why feet or hands start to go numb when they are submerged in icy water for a long period of time.
Hot receptors start to perceive hot sensations when the surface of the skin rises above 86º F and are most stimulated at 113º F. But beyond 113º F, pain receptors take over to avoid damage being done to the skin and underlying tissues.

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