Why can’t we tickle ourselves?

Why can’t we tickle ourselves?

Let’s grab a feather and tickle the soles of our feet to reveal one of the greatest mysteries of the human brain. Then let’s ask someone else to do the same. A question arises: How is it that our facial expressions do not change in the first, while in the second, we stiffen with an emotion that is both pleasure and pain?

This question, once asked in childhood, is also on the agenda of neurologists today. This, says George Van Doorn of Monash University in Australia, “opens the door to bigger questions like consciousness and self-awareness.” For this reason, some extreme experiments are undertaken to get people to tickle themselves in the laboratory by breaking through the barriers of the brain.

In order to understand the interest of scientists in this subject, it is necessary to think about this: What would happen if we were confused by different sensations every time our body moved, and turned left and right? Or if we thought someone was attacking us every time our hand hit our leg while walking?

Prediction of the cerebellum
Being able to distinguish between our own actions and the actions of others therefore forms the basis for our sense of our own being and external beings. This is a feature that even the smartest robots cannot imitate. It is important to carry out these studies in order to find samples that can be easily imitated in the laboratory.

Sarah Jayne Blakemore of the University of London was one of the first scientists to examine this decision made by the brain in a very short time between movements originating from ourselves and movements originating from outside. Brain scans were taken while subjects’ palms were being tickled by others and doing so themselves. Blakemore noticed that when we move our limbs, the cerebellum can make predictions about these movements, and a second signal is sent to the back of activity in the somatosensory cortex, where tactile sensations are processed. As a result, when we tickle ourselves, we do not feel sensations as intensely as when tickled by others, we remain calm.


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