When does our sense of touch alert the brain of danger?

Close your eyes and touch something, such as your clothes, a table, a car or even your own skin. Stroke it gently. What does it feel like? Is it hard or soft, hot or cold? The surface may be smooth, bumpy, gritty, furry or hairy. It could be dry, moist, or slimy. Your skin continuously passes huge amounts of information to the brain. It monitors touch, pain, temperature and other factors that tell the brain exactly how the body is being affected by the environment. Without this constant flow of information, you would keep injuring yourself accidentally, which is what happens in some rare diseases where the skin senses are lost. Senses in the skin are measured by tiny receptors at the ends of nerves. There are several different types of receptor. Each type can detect only one kind of sensation, such as pain, temperature, pressure, touch and so on.

Fact File:

Sometimes we need drugs, or analgesics, to control a pain. Some drugs, such as aspirin, work by preventing the sensation of pain from reaching the brain.


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