Saturday, March 27, 2010

See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me

I have a curious habit when I wake up in the morning.

In the dark I get dressed by feel, pretending I am blind. I feel for the labels on the clothes, or the tie waistband, or whatever can orient me to the proper way to put things on. I find the right shoes for my feet by feel. I feel my way through the house into the kitchen.

This habit is new since I’ve been getting up in the darkness. It’s like a puzzle I solve every morning, practicing my sense of touch.
It somehow pleases me to know that there are ways other than by sight to see.

So just for fun I did a mini-study on the sense of touch.

I think of my sense of touch as being in my hands. But while my hands are covered with the most touch receptors and those sensations are processed by a large part of the area in my brain that registers the incoming data of touch receptors, every bit of my skin is used for touch.
My body has about 20 different types of nerve endings that send signals to my brain. The most common are the touch receptors for heat, cold, pain, and pressure. I was sorry to learn that I have more pain nerve endings than any other type.
The sense of touch starts off in the bottom layer of the skin. The nerve endings there send information about sensations to the spinal cord, which zips the signals up to the brain. The brain examines the information and the effects of the touch, then sends messages about the reaction to the rest of the body.
Some body areas are more sensitive than others because they have more nerve endings. The most sensitive areas are my hands, lips, face, neck, tongue, and feet. The least sensitive part is the middle of my back.

But I also found out there’s another sense involved in why I can stand up and put on my clothes in darkness, then walk across the house using only my memory map of the rooms. It’s called proprioception, and it’s the sense of where my body parts are in relation to each other.
Proprioception uses input from my inner ears, where sensory neurons signal my motion and orientation, and input from receptors in my muscles and ligaments. It then tells my brain where the parts of my body are located relative to each other, and whether I’m moving the way I should be moving

So I have six external senses that help me perceive the outside world even if it’s dark… taste, smell, touch, and hearing, plus the useless sense of sight, and a sixth one, balance. I also have interior senses, which allow me to perceive the pain and movement of internal organs. Proprioception is in a sensory class of its own, and it provides feedback to my brain about my body’s placement as a unit of arms, legs, torso, and head

There’s our little science lesson for today. Enjoy the 100 receptors on each fingertip, and if you have an ear infection, be careful when you walk.

Songs running through my mind this morning...
Feel Me
Touch Me
Heal Me
Listening to you, I get the music
Gazing at you, I get the heat
Following you, I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet
Right behind you, I see the millions
On you, I see the glory
From you, I get opinion
From you, I get the story

Manfred Mann's Earth Band, 1975

Blinded by the light,
revved up like a deuce,
another runner in the night
Madman drummers bummers, Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin' kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round
With this very unpleasin', sneezin' and wheezin, the calliope crashed to the ground



Anonymous said...

I am the opposite, I have to have some light on-a nite lite in every room, or I'll hurt myself tripping and walking into things.
That is a good science lesson, I learned some things :)


Syd said...

I sometimes do the same especially at sea on a research vessel. Most of the time it is so dark in the room and when watches change one has to get up, get dressed without disturbing others who are sleeping. I learned something new about the sense of touch here.

Sherry said...

When I jog, occasionally I will see how long I can go on the path with my eyes shut. Have a nice weekend!

Brian Miller said...

feeling, nothing but feelings....smiles. i usually get up in the dark as daily challenge is not to trip over the boy sthat has taken with sneaking in to sleep on our floor...

RNSANE said...

I think this is why my mother managed to do pretty well in her duplex for six years after the onset of her macular degeneration, Chris. She knew every inch of that apartment and could manage to get around it, dress, care for herself pretty much, cook her t.v. dinners, etc - until that last stroke which turned everything topsy turvy. Proprioception, huh. I haven't really tried doing all that yet but I'll give it a whirl. My place is such a disaster area, though.

nsiyer said...

I will try it out and learn the lessons. Nice post

Woman in a Window said...

Sorry Chris, a little bent this morning. I kept waiting for the punch line in which you toppled into something.

More coffee to come...

Have a great weekend!


TechnoBabe said...

When I was young I would find my way around with eyes closed and learn to listen to my other senses. My father had 2% vision and I wondered what it would be like to be blind. So I practiced it. It is interesting to read the interior senses which makes sense, doesn't it? Nice informative post. Thanks.

Prayer Girl said...

Wow - I loved this post. You probably know from my blogs that I have a special connection to "touch". I loved this 'science?' lesson. Putting what you said in reverse is kind of what happens, maybe?

Then to top it all off, you blog the song, "See Me - Feel Me - Touch Me - HEAL Me.

Perfectly beautiful for me this sunny Saturday.


WOW said...

BTW thanks for linking me up to two of my favorites from long ago.


WOW said...

My husband tells a story about how when he was near home late at night, and much younger, on a windy country road when he would CLOSE HIS EYES and drive along remembering the curves, etc. Amazingly enough, he never crashed. Of course he was nuts back then.

I try to do things in the dark like dressing, etc., with mixed results and assorted bruises. Yes, thanks for the science lesson.


Magpie said...

Your mind is amazing. The fact that you have such curiosity and desire to learn and experience life from all angles...wonderful.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

First off I love both of those songs...secondly I am beginning to believe that we were separated at birth....I enjoy doing things in the dark to rely on my other senses, not for fun necessarily but to just experience my other senses.

I think you may have missed a calling as a science teacher...:-)

Love you

Anonymous said...

What an interesting read. It's funny how we don't realize just how important the sense of touch is and how it can be just as effective source of direction as sight or sound. I love your sense of curiosity. - G

chitowngreg said...

It's funny how are senses work. I didn't wear a watch all the way through college and always knew within 10 minutes what time it was. Can wake up in the middle of the night even now and know within 10-15 minutes what time it is before I look at the clock. Kind of weird!?!

Maha said...

I gave you an award on my blog, come and check it out!

Anonymous :) said...

Great post, Chris. Although, all the comments about people doing stuff with their eyes closed scares me. Those songs brought back some memories.

sarah said...

I love this...too cool and you know what? I dress and move in the dark too. The kids think I'm nuts but there's something about being in the dark for me...not all the time but sometimes I need to feel my way in the dark...have a great weekend...Sarah

Totalfeckineejit said...

interesting.I sometimes see ow far I can walk with my eyes closed.The feeling of tension builds immensely like a force field.I fnd I can't go half as far as I used to be able to.

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

We simply must count our blessings more than we do. I really enjoyed the thoughts of this and the way you are experiencing by choice what many experience by chance.

evalinn said...

That´s very intersting, thank you for sharing your mini-study!

Kim A. said...

"Blinded by the Light" is one of my very favorite songs only now I know the actual lyrics. :-D In nursing school, we had to pair up with one of us blindfolded and one of us giving directs to navigate the campus. It was a learning experience. I believe my spirit is also a "sense" in a way. Good job, teacher!


Steve E said...

My father was blind. For long periods of time (mostly measured in minutes!) all my life I have "pretended" sightlessness. And even today, daily, I rise and do most of "getting ready for the day--in total darkness. I am SO happy when someone has NOT left a normally closed door...well, OPEN!

I am not familiar with many songs-of-the-day, but thoroughly devoured every bit of your "research" with great interest. Thank you.


Steve E said...

WOW! (I'm double dipping) One of your commentors named WOW...what an INTERESTING blog they run over there...gonna look into it. At least I can lurk, right?


Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

I had no idea we had so many receptors in our finger tips!

Dianne said...

A fine response to my piece on the tips of our fingers. I almost missed this when I was out of town and electronic range. You write and relate so wonderfully. I hear those songs in my head now, they are two favorites.
Keep writing because,