The sense of touch bonds families and groups, guides the brain of infants as they learn to understand the world, enhances healing, and serves as a private communication link between intimate partners.
Even though you rarely think about it, the nerve receptors in your skin are constantly engaged in picking up information.
And your tactile system is more sophisticated than you may realize. Here are some examples.
- Imagine that you’re blindfolded and a complete stranger is trying to communicate a specific emotional state to you using only the sense of touch. Researchers in 2009 showed that test subjects could distinguish up to seven different emotional states based on tactile input alone: anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness and sadness.
- Have you watched an NBA basketball game lately? Players are continually high-fiving, hugging, and affectionately slapping each other. But those players and teams who touch each other more frequently invariably perform better.
- Adolescents who have less experience with physical affection and positive touch were more violent and more easily distractible in school.
- Cancer patients who were touched in a consistent way maintained improved immune function during their recovery.
- Stressed out, depressed adolescent mothers who were treated with massage therapy improved their mood and lowered their levels of circulating stress hormones.
Enjoy the benefits of touch in your life and as a contributor to your health.