Strolling through a local foreign language library, I stumbled onto TOUCH, by David Linden. Looked through, found it to be of interest and decided to have a go at it.
I was looking for a translation of all the science into everyday behaviors, something practical for my work. The expectations were met; however, you need to be patient if you choose to read this book because 90% of it is medical science (in English, in the version I read!).
Difficult as it may have been to read “Touch”, I did come out of it with some very interesting observations and learning. All text in inverted commas in the following text is a direct quotation from the book TOUCH, by David Linden.
How touch works
Touch is so much more than facts, objects and circuits which allow information to move from the sensors to the brain and back to the parts which can perform the needed action, like withdrawal.
We have “two separate touch systems in the skin, operating in parallel, which report fundamentally different aspects of our tactile world”: the facts and the emotions they trigger within us.
“Our perception of a sensory stimulus is crucially dependent upon our expectations, as they have been formed by our life experience up to that moment. When there’s a mismatch between expectation and sensation, it’s a sign that something weird is happening, and our perception of that sensation is fundamentally altered.”
While making sense of the touch information, context is key. The sensory experience itself is altered by the context.
It’s all blended
We experience touch as a unified sensation. The map our brain interprets as “touch” is built through parallel information transmission, interpretation, and sometimes with interventions.