touch sensation

Topics: Nervous system, Skin, Brain Pages: 8 (2508 words) Published: March 27, 2014
 Touch Sensation in Humans

Frontiers in Animal Structure and Function

The ability for you to have the touch sensation involves a variety of complex pathways all included in your somatosensory system. Your body interacts with your brain and spinal cord allowing you to feel, this is done though your peripheral nervous system and central nervous system. Located within the layers of your skin are different mechanoreceptors, nociceptors, proprioceptors and thermoreceptors that sense the different varieties of sensations including temperature, pressure, and texture. All of these systems work together constantly in achieving a humans ability to touch.

Keywords: Somatosensory system, peripheral nervous system, central nervous system, mechanoreceptors


As you reach into your refrigerator you grab yourself the gallon of tea sitting on the top shelf and you begin to pour yourself a glass. The cold sensation of the bottle is felt through your fingertips and hands sends a sharp yet familiar sensation though your body. You can tell through the touch of your hand that this tea is in fact, cold. This sensation seems common enough since you touch things with different surface temperatures and textures throughout the entire day. These feelings are common, something you are simply accustomed to since you are born with the ability to achieve this sense of touch, but the actuality of this is truly more complex than you may think. Main Body

Your touch sensation allows you to feel a variety of things, such as pressure from someone’s hand grasping your own, pain from a slip on the icy patch outside your door one morning, and warmth of that cup of coffee you had when you had first woken up. The ability to touch all begins with your skin and the different receptors located within the layers of your skin that interact with your nervous system.[1] The epidermis is the most outer layer of skin or your visible skin[2]. Located in this layer of skin are touch receptors, cells that send signals to your brain. This is achieved by electrical pulses that are sent to your neurons. A neuron is a cell that specializes in transmitting nerve impulses. The signal is then sent from neuron to neuron, called the neural network, until the signal eventually reaches your spinal cord. The spinal cord then sends this signal to your brain, which interprets the message and allows you to react to whatever sensation it is that you are feeling. All of these actions seem to occur relatively instantly in a process that sounds longer than it is in reality. Everything you feel on a daily basis, is a message sent from your brain telling you what you should be feeling, both externally from your body’s skin and internally such as the sensation of a stomach ache. Without this connection you wouldn’t feel anything and your body

3 couldn’t tell the difference in texture, temperature, or shape. Fire over your skin would appear to damage it yet you wouldn’t be able to feel the pain that it causes from the heat damage.

The layer of skin beneath your epidermis is your dermis and it is composed of different types of tissue such as collagen, reticular fibers and elastic tissue or fibers[3]. Also located in your dermis is a variety of components like oil glands, blood vessels, sweat glands, different touch receptors, nerve endings and your hair follicles. The dermis continuously provides nutrients to the epidermis though blood the capillaries.

The final and third layer of skin is the hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue[4]. This...

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[9] Fein, Alan Ph. D (February 2012) “Nociceptors and the Perception of Pain”.
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[10]Quinn, Elizabeth (8 May 2013) “Proprioceptors - What Are the Proprioceptors and
Proprioception” .SportsMedicine. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
[11] Darian-Smith, Ian & Johnon, Kenneth O
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