Issued Date: 02.02.2023
Published Date: 15.02.2023
Author Affiliations: Aarti Asrani
Touch is a vital sense for sensory perception since it enables us to learn about both our internal and exterior environments. According to Jerry Chen (2022), a neurobiologist and specialist in cognitive function at Boston University, "When we perceive our environment, we're essentially performing two things." We are absorbing all of the world's physical elements and senses while also using our own sorts of inference and interpreting what we believe to be perceiving. In a recent study published in Science, Chen sheds light on this procedure, demonstrating how the brain constructs a feeling of touch by fusing external data with internal memory. Chen and a group of scientists from BU and the Allen Institute for Brain Science examined mouse brains and found a circuit in the primary somatosensory cortex, the area of the brain that receives signals related to touch, temperature, and pain, that is specifically responsible for computing tactile information. He claims that the circuit aids the brain in determining how to balance the stimuli coming from outside the body with the knowledge already stored therein. The research may be important for our comprehension of a variety of neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions, such as strokes and autism spectrum disorder, which can affect sensory perception. Touch plays a crucial role in maintaining emotional, psychological and physical health. The experiments on monkeys conducted by Harlow (Harlow & Harlow, 1965) demonstrated the importance of the need for touch. In several trials, wire and wool were used to make inanimate surrogate moms for young monkeys. Each newborn developed a bond with its own "mother," recognising and favouring that face over others. The infants were then given a wire "mother" and a soft, cuddly-clothed "mother" that were housed in two different but connected chambers. Only the wire "mother" had a food-filled bottle. Even though the wire "mother" was the only one with food, Harlow discovered that the monkeys spent much more time cuddling up to the cloth "mother" than they did with the wire "mother" next. While food is important for survival, touch keeps us going. When the body releases the stress hormone cortisol under stressful circumstances. Reduced stress enables the immune system to function as it should, which is one of the greatest benefits of touch. Blood pressure and heart rate are two more biological processes that can be reduced by touch. It accomplishes this by activating pressure receptors, which send signals to the vagus nerve. The brain is connected to the rest of the body by this nerve. It makes use of the signals to slow the nervous system's rate. Studies using PET scans have found that the brain quiets in response to stress when a person’s hand is held. The effect is greatest when the hand being held is that of a loved one, but it still works even if it’s just a stranger (Field, 2010). Touch is hypothesised to stimulate pathways for oxytocin, the natural depressant serotonin, and the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine in early childhood, which is essential for the development of good relationships. (Dan - Mikael Ellingsen,2015) ) Skin-to-skin contact even in the first hour after birth has been shown to help regulate new-borns’ temperature, heart rate, and breathing, and decreases crying (Ferber, Feldman, & Makhoul, 2008).