002 touch_research


Your sense of touch originates in the bottom layer of the skin called the dermis. The dermis is filled with many tiny nerve endings which give you information about the things with which your body comes in contact. Your body has about twenty different nerve endings in the skin that tell you if something is hot, cold, or going to hurt you. The nerve endings convey this information to the brain and spinal cord, also known as the central nervous system (CNS), to areas where we perceive the stimuli. To accomplish this, the nerve endings of the sensory receptors convert mechanical, thermal, or chemical energy into electrical signals.



Interesting webpage to find out more about touch:



And since my love language is touch, I decided to find out more about touch in that aspect!

A pat on the back, a caress of the arm—these are everyday, incidental gestures that we usually take for granted, thanks to our amazingly dexterous hands.

But after years spent immersed in the science of touch, I can tell you that they are far more profound than we usually realise: They are our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion.

In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.

There are studies showing that touch signals safety and trust, it soothes. Basic warm touch calms cardiovascular stress. It activates the body’s vagus nerve, which is intimately involved with our compassionate response, and a simple touch can trigger release of oxytocin, aka “the love hormone.”

These kinds of benefits can pop up in unexpected places: In a recent study out of my lab, published in the journal Emotion we found that, in general, NBA basketball teams whose players touch each other more win more games.


Survival instinct

Babies also crave touch. It has long been known among animal behaviour researchers that physical contact is critical for proper social and emotional development. When developmental psychologist Harry Harlow deprived infant rhesus monkeys of access to a monkey mother in his 1950s experiments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they became withdrawn, depressed, and anxious. They refused food, and entered into what he called a “state of emotional shock.” When allowed access to a surrogate mother, the infant monkeys overwhelmingly chose the tactile sensations provided by a doll covered by terry cloth over a wire doll that provided food and water. The young monkeys preferred the comfort of even an inanimate mother’s touch to physical sustenance. <- 🙁


That’s just so sweet and touching (punned) :’)

Touch is what humans use to interact most, from daily interactions like a handshake to a hug.

But have we been taking this sense of touch for granted?


Unfortunately, like eyesight and hearing, our sense of touch is vulnerable to the effects of age. The touch sense steadily deteriorates as we get older, starting around the age of 18. Every year, we lose around one percent of our tactile sense.

“By the time you’re old, you’ve lost a whole lot of the touch sense,” said Linden. “The main way is because the density of nerve endings in your hands has just decreased. Those nerves die off and they don’t come back. Another reason is that the insulating material, called myelin, that coats the fast-conducting nerve fibres and makes them project quickly to the brain breaks down, so the information gets to your brain more slowly.”

Part of the reason that elderly people are so prone to falls is that they are getting less tactile information from the soles of their feet. One of the ways for the elderly to combat falling is actually to go barefoot so that they have a better sense of the ground, Linden explains.



I never knew we would lose our sense of touch?!!! And I never knew that that’s why the elderly are so prone to falls! I thought it was solely due to their lack of mobility. WOaaaah. I immediately called my grammy and told her to go barefoot hahha

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment