The Social Imprtance of Human Touch

Mechanism of Touch
The feeling of touch is controlled by the nervous system of the human body. The spinal cord and the brain play an essential role in the perception of the touch response. Sensation over the skin of any part creates a touch response. Sensitive areas for touch feelings are fingertips, lips, and etcetera. The more the sensitivity of a part, the more is the response created. With the increase in sensitivity, an increased area of the brain is stimulated. The less sensitive part stimulates less area of the brain. A part of the skin becomes more sensitive when the number of receptors is high, and they lie close to each other.

The whole process starts when receptors in the skin for touch receive a stimulus. Then, the receptors perceive this stimulus in the form of signals.

The signal from the touch receptors travels to a bundle of neural fibers named sensory nerves. These sensory nerve cells are present in the spinal cord.

The signal then travels to the thalamus.

The thalamus spreads the signal to the rest of the brain.

The somatosensory cortex in the brain converts these signals into a particular response.

The response (somatosensory information) travels to another bundle of neural fibers. These fibers are called motor nerves. Motor nerve cells relay the touch response from the cortex to the effector.

The effector receives the information and produces a response in the same way.

Types of Receptors
Human touch is a sensation. It starts only when receptors perceive them. Several types of receptors identify different touch sensations. Thermoreceptors – Receptors that receive any temperature-related touch sensors. When either cold or hot is felt, the information is carried out by thermoreceptors. Two structures help in detecting two extremes of temperatures. The end bulb of Krause helps in detecting cold feelings. The Ruffini’s end-organ helps in detecting hot feelings. Mechanoreceptors – Receptors that relay the mechanical movement senses to the central nervous system. Human skin contains four different types of mechanoreceptors.

Pacinian corpuscles – Detects deep feelings. They help in knowing hard and soft substances. They react to vibrations (250 Hz) even if the vibrations come from 1 cm away. Their receptive field is significant. They react only to sudden senses. Stimuli which are always present (like the pressing of clothing against the body), are not picked up by these receptors.

Merkel’s discs – Perceive pressure and texture stimulus. They react to low vibrations (6-15 Hz). Their receptive field is narrow. Due to the small receptive field, they are placed in a sensitive area. The most important location for these receptors is the fingertips. These receptors are not covered. Therefore, they are used for a lengthy period.

Tactile corpuscle – Perceive light touches. They are stimulated through mild vibrations (10-50 Hz). Due to their sensitivity, they are found in the fingertips and the lips.

Bulbous corpuscle – Perceive slow senses. They control finger position and movements. Chemoreceptors – Transmits signals received by a chemical stimulus. Chemical substances cause activation of these receptors.

Clinical Importance
Touch is one of the sensors present in humans. Since it is directly related to the nervous system, it is sensitive. Unfortunately, this sensitivity leads to several medical conditions.

Somatosensory deficiency can happen. This may be due to the nerves of somatosensory peripheral nerves. The somatosensory cortex is an important site for touch signal transactions. Without them, the touch sensation is not converted into nerve signals. Hence, the part of the human body becomes numb.

Paresthesia is an unwanted feeling of the skin without any real cause. Here the patients feel senses like chilling, burning, tickling, etcetera. All the response is seen without any physical cause.

Pain asymboliais a type of medical condition where people have lost their sense of pain. Therefore, the patient is without the emotional portion of pain.

Loss of touch sensation with growing age.

Children with negligible touch face severe clinical conditions. They face depression, serious issues like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etcetera. Their immune systemsget weak.

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