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What causes us to be ticklish?

Launcher Erik Montes United States
Status Closed Closed 3 years ago
Bounty Reward


mankind ; human species genetics of human races


What causes us to be ticklish? Also, why when we tickle our own self we don't feel anything, but when someone else tickles us we feel ticklish?

Answers (1)

  • Harlene Flores
    Feb 18, 2012

    The question of why we are ticklish is one among many questions about the human body that we don't appear to have clear cut answers. There are various theories though that attempt to explain what causes us to be ticklish. Anthony Komaroff, a renowned medical doctor who has published hundreds of research articles and is a Founding Editor of Journal Watch General Medicine, considers top three theories as to why we are ticklish.

    One theory suggests that it is one of nature's ways to help a baby in the womb to remain in its best position that the body is designed with specific areas that are more sensitive to touching or tapping. Another theory proposes that being ticklish is one way to bond people. Tickling results to laughter and happy moments that help to build stronger bond between people. The third theory promotes the idea that the parts of the body that are more prone to tickling such as the neck are considered more vulnerable and developing the ability to protect these body parts from tickling when you are young could help to keep them from getting hurt or injured.

    It is also a fascinating mystery as to why tickling produces laughter when done by others but does not produce the same response when you do it yourself. One popular theory to this reasoning is that when you tickle yourself, the element of surprise is no longer there as your brain knows the exact location in the body you will get tickled and the exact time the tickling happens. Dr. Komaroff has some doubts about this reasoning though citing that even without the element of surprise or with the full knowledge that you will be tickled by someone else, some people still laugh as a response.

    According to a study done by a group of doctors from the Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology in London about how the brain differentiates self-initiated sensations from those that are initiated by others, the part of the brain called the cerebellum communicates to the somatosensory cortex, or the part of the brain that responds to the sense of touch, the exact location as to where you will tickle yourself. This results to a lessening or absence of tickling response as the receptive area already know what sensation to anticipate.

    One interesting fact to note is that people suffering from schizophrenia can feel ticklish when they tickle themselves, which is largely though of to be because they have the tendency not to recognize their actions as their own.

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