Spontaneous Self-Touch: That’s why we touch our faces

Interview with Dr. Martin Grunwald, Head of the Haptics Research Laboratory at the Paul Flechsig Institute fuR brain research at the universityetc.R. Leipzig.

Mr. Grunwald, you hold that the sense of touch is the most important sensory organ uAbsolutely. why?

We can be born blind or deaf, but we cannot live without touching. Even in the womb, unborn babies react when spanking. As social beings, we need to connect with others for healthy development.

They are looking for a very specific expressionetc.The sense of touch: self-repairingua. What can you imagine here?

Everyone sees it in the other person: you rub your nose or forehead for a while during the conversation. For millions of years, humans and monkeys have been petting each other’s faces – up to 800 times a day. Research this doesn’t have much to offer apart from the descriptions. Our team is interested in what happens at the electrophysiological level in the brain. I’m sure: if we do something like this all the time, even if it’s only for 1.3 seconds, that touch also has meaning for our being.

Regulating function: touch stabilizes emotions and thoughts

What do you find?

We understand what we call spontaneous facial touch as a regulatory mechanism that an organism has built to compensate for disturbances caused by unrelated stimuli. These can be cognitive or emotional disturbances: when we feel unwell, afraid or stressed, when our minds wander or in everyday moments of personal stress.

KohCan you give a simple example from everyday life?

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Two people have a deep conversation when an attractive third person walks by. This leads to emotional imbalance for the interlocutor for a short time. By subconsciously touching himself, he is able to restore his inner balance and focus on the conversation again.

How did you create a similar situation in the lab?

In our experiments, we identified cognitive themes. In the most recent study, they were asked to touch two patterns of depth and memorize them for 15 minutes, then record them from memory. During the memory stage, the poor “treated” us with noise: children crying, bicycle bells, hammer drills, and all that. It was interesting that this is exactly when most self-touching occurs. During the experiments, we measured electrical currents in the participants’ brain.

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