Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind

Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind

David J. Linden

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0670014877

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The New York Times bestselling author examines how our sense of touch and emotion are interconnected

Johns Hopkins neuroscientist and bestselling author of The Compass of Pleasure David J. Linden presents an engaging and fascinating examination of how the interface between our sense of touch and our emotional responses affects our social interactions as well as our general health and development. Accessible in its wit and clarity, Touch explores scientific advances in the understanding of touch that help explain our sense of self and our experience of the world.

From skin to nerves to brain, the organization of the body’s touch circuits powerfully influences our lives—affecting everything from consumer choice to sexual intercourse, tool use to the origins of language, chronic pain to healing. Interpersonal touch is crucial to social bonding and individual development. Linden lucidly explains how sensory and emotional context work together to distinguish between perceptions of what feels good and what feels bad. Linking biology and behavioral science, Linden offers an entertaining and enlightening answer to how we feel in every sense of the word.

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“Eeeeeeeeeeeew!” “You’re so gross, Sam. I’m not answering that one.” “But you have to. Those are the rules.” “No way, you pervert.” “You’re so prickly. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” “Yeah, right.” “Okay, here’s a clean one. Would you rather die of cold in Antarctica or heat in the Sahara Desert?” “I’m not allowed to bring a parka to Antarctica?” “No, you’re naked.” “Then I choose the desert. I want to go out with a good tan.” Good-natured howling erupts. Caroline raises her arm

that triggered their patients’ seizures, the so-called epileptic focus, so that it could be removed while causing the least damage to healthy neighboring tissue. There is no one spot in the brain that is consistently the origin of epilepsy, so mapping the epileptic focus had to be done individually for each patient. In this remarkable procedure, a patient’s head was shaved and stabilized and the scalp was incised and retracted. Then Penfield used a miniature saw to cut away a circular flap of

been able to live independently in her home in Québec, Canada, for many years (she is sixty-five at the time of this writing). Figure 3.2 A sural nerve biopsy of patient G.L. In G.L.’s sural nerve, note the lack of large myelinated A-fibers and the preservation of small unmyelinated C-fibers. In the center, a normal nerve is shown for comparison. A nerve from a patient suffering from Norrbotten syndrome (also called HSAN V) shows the converse of G.L.’s condition, with spared large A-fibers and

but are not simultaneously making mental checklists assessing them on the basis of “humane versus ruthless” or “discussion versus argument.” That’s why it’s important to investigate the social roles of touch in everyday contexts. Figure 1.2 Interpersonal touch predicts increased performance in the NBA. Top: Bar graph shows total celebratory touch duration scored in a single early season game for winning and losing teams in the five games that followed during the 2008–9 NBA season. From M. W.

force of skin indentation is transduced into an electrical signal? Is it in the Merkel cells, in the Merkel cell-contacting nerve fibers, or both? When Merkel cells are genetically deleted, this abolishes electrical responses in the touch-sensing nerve fiber. Yet there are several possible explanations for this result: (a) Merkel cells are required in a mechanical role to transmit force properly to the nerve fiber, but it is the nerve fiber that transduces force into electrical spiking through

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