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How does the sense of touch work?

  1. Jul 11, 2005 #1
    I would like to know how the brain takes information, which we call 'pain' and 'pleasure', and turns it into a physical experience.

    Any theories and/or suggestions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2005 #2
    suggestions: pick up a standard psych textbook.
    look up the areas of sensorimotor. You'll mostlikely come across the following areas

    first look how to read up the brain divisions ie axis and direction
    medial, infra, intra, para,pre,post, ventral, dorsal,superior,inferior,anterior,posterior

    HindBrain - Cerebellum,Pons,Medulla
    MidBrain - Periaqueductal gray, Red Nucleus, Substantia nigra, lemniscus, VTA
    Thalamus - ANT, ILN/PFN, MDN,VAN all abbreviate
    Cortex- Primary & Secondary Sensory & Motor cortices located at the very top of your head. arranged in a very interesting structure similar to your actually body. The way psych book depict it is really cool

    Once you know where theses regions are you can look up how they are connected...i recently read that there are 3-4 channels to take input of sensorimotor into your brain.
    []Facial sensations []far limbs []torso alignment []i think a combo of the last 2

    then they split up into pain/touch/temperature. As for pleasure its prolly a complement of pain(on/off) or just touch.
  4. Jul 11, 2005 #3
    Interesting! Before I follow your advice though, can you tell me if the book actually answeres my question or just provides a technical overview of how the body interprets pain.

    Because if I were to build a robot with millions of little sensors who could feel pain and sense via touch and tell you how the sensors relay information to and from the main processor via the main board and so on, you would then know how the electrical system works but would still be in the dark about how the pain itself is felt and how 'feeling' is interpreted by the robot.

    Do these books shine some light on this or are they purely technical?
  5. Jul 11, 2005 #4
    This is an unanswered question. The scientific books will describe physical processes that correlate with such personal experiences. There are philosophy books that talk about the kind of question you are interested in. In philosophy those personal experiences you talk about are called qualia.

    I guess in the philosophy section here at PF there will be many threads about qualia, for example this one:
  6. Jul 13, 2005 #5


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    Hi All,

    Pain is an emotion and isn't a stimulus. nociceptive stimuli are interpreted by brain and pain is a brain response (but if brain decides that something is more important then pain may be delayed).
    Pain is a complex output coming from brain.
  7. Jul 14, 2005 #6
    Funny how similar most responses are in nature. I'm sorry but this doesn't answer my question somasimple. Infact I could easilly make it part of my question by asking...

    Pain is a complex output coming from brain, but I would like to know how the brain takes this output, which we call 'pain' and 'pleasure', and turns it into a physical experience.

    Again, I remind you that one could very well build a robot that produces the same type of output, but the robot would not 'feel' anything. It would only be told by its brain that it's feeling something. So is information put out by a human brain really powerful enough to take over the physical? Even so, how does a body, that is otherwise simply a shell, interpret this pain and place it in the area where "it hurts", whatever that means.

    I've got plenty of followup questions but I don't really want to list them all, because if my original question can be answered then they all will be.

    Gerben thanks for the link, by the way! :)
  8. Jul 14, 2005 #7


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    Body and brain are non divisible. Body is Brain and Brain is Body!

    Brain needs body to creates pain (changes breathing, heartbeats, muscle tone...) and uses these physical signals to construct the ouput. (see Antonio DAMASIO).
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