We have all done it to someone or had it done to us. Some of us are more sensitive to it than others. What are we talking about? – tickling.
What exactly happens when you’re tickled? In simple terms, nerve endings in your skin send messages to the cerebellum, the area of your brain that monitors movement and reacts to sensation. When someone tickles you, the cerebellum reacts to this unexpected touch.
Our brain is aware of our body’s movement however and can predict a response to any sensation and suppress a response. This failure to surprise our brain is why we cannot tickle ourselves.
A reaction to being tickled does have benefits. Many believe it to be a defense mechanism. Being tickled often draws attention to external stimuli. Like an itch, it can alert us to predators, such as insects crawling on our skin. In addition, some of the most ticklish parts of our body, such as under our arms and our ribs, are also some of our most vulnerable, reinforcing the theory that tickling is a way of warning our body to protect these areas.
Another potential benefit is that being tickled can be slimming. Tickling makes you laugh, which burns calories. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that 10 to 15 minutes of laughing burns 10 to 40 extra calories a day — which could add up to one to four pounds in a year.
There are still many things we do not know about tickling, including why some people are more ticklish than others, but at least you now know that you cannot tickle yourself.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.