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...
The Who, 1979
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
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