German China

Germany: How Touch Forms Our Thoughts

When Our Senses Play Tricks on Us

| Editor: Alexander Stark

Even if the hands and feet are crossed, it can happen that the touch to the right hand is felt on the right foot.
Gallery: 2 Pictures
Even if the hands and feet are crossed, it can happen that the touch to the right hand is felt on the right foot. (Source: University of Bielefeld)

The sense of touch is the earliest human sense: in utero, a fetus already perceives itself and its environment through touch. A new research group at Citec is investigating how the sense of touch directs human thought.

Bielefeld/Germany — The human body is equipped with senses, from touch to sight. And these sensors define how we can think. Skin is the boundary between the body and the environment, and for this reason, skin plays a particularly important role in self-perception. Prof. Dr. Tobias Heed specializes in how the brain registers its body and environment through touch and movement. In September 2016, Heed was appointed professor to the Faculty of Psychology and Sports Science at Bielefeld University.

Dr. Heed explores how the human brain plans and controls movements while taking touch into account, for example, what happens when the brain notices a fly on the arm and calls upon the hand to brush the insect away. We use our hands as tools to feel out and manipulate our environment. Our skin and body parts are always in motion. A big question is thus how the brain translates a touch of the skin into a spatial location. How does the brain incorporate the position and posture of every body part in order to situate these touches in space? Touch is necessary to evaluate the environment and to decide what the next thing to do is.

The Brain Circuit that Helps Us Make Complex Decisions

Neuroscience

The Brain Circuit that Helps Us Make Complex Decisions

23/05/2019 - MIT neuroscientists are exploring how the brain handles hierarchical decision-making processes. They identified a brain circuit that helps break decisions down into smaller pieces. read...

In many situations, there are many paths that can be used to arrive at our goals, says Heed. "For instance, you could open a door with your left hand instead of your right if you are holding a shopping bag in your right hand. Alternatively, you could push the door handle with your elbow, knee, or foot.” In his research, this has led Heed to the question of how the brain manages to provide the different possible actions and choose from among them.

In order to find out how consciousness of one’s body develops, Heed’s research group also wants to investigate the behavior of children who are physically clumsy, such as those who frequently stumble and fall. “This behavior indicates that it is difficult for the brain to precisely perceive the body. If we can figure out what is disrupting the connection between the body and brain, we will also find out how this link normally functions.” These findings could be used, for instance, in training programs to improve physical awareness of one’s body.

Temperature Comfort-Zone in the Brain

Japan: Behavioural Sciences

Temperature Comfort-Zone in the Brain

09/08/2017 - A team at Nagoya University has shed light on how distinct sensory neural pathways function in "feeling" changes in temperature in the environment on the one hand, and actually responding to these changes, such as seeking a cooler or warmer site, on the other. read...

Psychology often deals with measuring abstract concepts like intelligence or social interaction. Heed and his team, however, is dedicated first to the basic abilities of touch and grasping, without which such abstract phenomena would not even be possible. This is because the same areas in the brain that are responsible for grasping also control, according to Heed, complex capabilities like one’s perception of body and space. "The ability to count is based on spatial perception, among other things. So, first we have to understand the underlying capabilities in order to also be able to decipher complex processes,” concludes Heed.

Comments are being loaded ....

Leave a comment

The comment is checked by an editor and will be released soon.

  1. Avatar
    Avatar
    Edited by at
    Edited by at
    1. Avatar
      Avatar
      Edited by at
      Edited by at

Comments are being loaded ....

Report comment

Kommentar Freigeben

Der untenstehende Text wird an den Kommentator gesendet, falls dieser eine Email-hinterlegt hat.

Freigabe entfernen

Der untenstehende Text wird an den Kommentator gesendet, falls dieser eine Email-hinterlegt hat.

copyright

This article is protected by copyright. You want to use it for your own purpose? Infos can be found under www.mycontentfactory.de (ID: 45967288 / Laborpraxis Worldwide)