The Human Senses



There’s a video for this blog post, linked above. Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to the Science channel! Nah, not really. I’ve just always wanted to say that. I wanted to do a fun facts video today, talking about the human senses. Of course, we all know about the five senses: sight (ophthalmoception), hearing (audioception), taste (gustaoception), smell (olfacoception), and touch (tactioception). But what if I told you that was just the beginning? Science!

There’s also temperature (thermoception), kinesthetic sense (proprioception), pain (nociception), balance (equilibrioception), vibration (mechanoreception), and time (chronoception). There is debate about what exactly constitutes a sense, so this makes it difficult to define what a sense is. And there is a reason why I specifically said HUMAN senses at the beginning of this video! There are quite a few that humans don’t have, but animals do. Maybe I’ll do a different video about that later, but today is all about us. You all already know about the traditional five, so I’ll just focus on the additional ones.

Temperature (thermoception): sense of heat and the absence of heat (cold) by the skin and internal skin passages. There are two different types – on the skin and internally. The skin thermoceptors detect external changes in temperature, while the homeostatic thermoceptors in the brain give feedback on internal body temperature changes.

Kinesthetic sense (proprioception): provides the brain with information on the movement and relative positions of the parts of the body. Neurologists test this sense by telling patients to close their eyes and touch their own nose with the tip of a finger. Assuming proper proprioceptive function, at no time will the person lose awareness of where the hand actually is, even though it is not being detected by any of the other senses.

Pain (nociception): signals nerve-damage or damage to tissue. The three types of pain receptors are skin (cutaneous), joints and bones (somatic), and body organs (visceral). It was previously believed that pain was simply the overloading of pressure receptors, but research in the first half of the 20th century indicated that pain is a distinct phenomenon that intertwines with all of the other senses, including touch. Pain was once considered an entirely subjective experience, but recent studies show that pain is registered in a part of the brain (anterior cingulate gyrus). The main function of pain is to attract our attention to dangers and motivate us to avoid them. For example, humans avoid touching a sharp needle, or hot object, or extending an arm beyond a safe limit because it is dangerous, and thus hurts. Without pain, people could do many dangerous things without being aware of the dangers.

Balance (equilibrioception): sense body movement, direction, and acceleration, and to attain and maintain postural equilibrium and balance.

Vibration (mechanoreception): I’m not sure if the name of this is entirely accurate, because I couldn’t find much about it, and I can’t find the original place I saw this one. Essentially, it’s the ability to feel mainly mechanical vibrations that are on or nearby the body. An example would be feeling the rumbling from a truck passing by.

Time (chronoception): This is not based on a physical sensory organ. Chronoception refers to how the passage of time is perceived and experienced. Although the sense of time is not associated with a specific sensory system, the work of psychologists and neuroscientists indicates that human brains do have a system governing the perception of time. One particular component is responsible for the circadian (or daily) rhythm, while other cell clusters appear to be capable of shorter-range (ultradian) timekeeping.

That’s all for today’s post! Hope you enjoyed it, and let me know what you want to see from me! Don’t forget, I have Patreon and ko-fi. Social media too: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!

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