Why Are We tickling?

What is Tickling?

Tickling is in fact a defense mechanism in order to escape sudden attacks. Tickling sensation works on the vulnerable areas of our body and people twist when tickled.

Generally the ticklish spots are the neck, foot, under the ribs and under the arms.

We notice two different types of tickling sensations:

1. Knismesis: It is observed specially in the neck, foot and hands. For example, when a feather brushes our neck or a bug crawls on, we just instantly be repelling it. But we don’t smile or laugh in this case. All mammals experience knismesis.

2. Gargalesis: This type of tickling sensation is only observed in primates including Apes, Monkeys and Human beings.
It’s an interesting way of defense. Because, it makes us squirm and laugh as well as offers confusing reaction of pain and pleasure. That behavior attracts others and convey that the person being tickled wants more.

Definitely if we wouldn’t laugh and give positive expression when tickled and just would be screaming, crying and performing negative reactions only, others wouldn’t show interest on it. As a result, we wouldn’t learn to defend ourselves.

Now you might be thinking why we can’t tickle ourselves !

Well, good point!
It’s because we can’t surprise ourselves. More clearly, we are not threatening to ourselves. Tickling works in terms of surprising actions. Our brain needs to sense a probable harmful attack.
But when we try tickling ourselves, our brain can easily detect it’s us and no surprise is left.
Cerebellum, the part of the brain at the back of the skull that is to coordinate or regulate mascular activity does the job.

Till now we knew that only primates experience gargalesis (the laughing kind of tickling) but the interesting fact is rodents also go through it.

Again, any touch on the outside skin stimulates the nerve endings under the skin. This stimulation sends signals to the brain. Researchers have found that two areas of the brain create feelings of tingling.

Both are names,
• Somatosensory cortex.
• anterior cingulated cortex.

A research of National Geographic came out to be a proof that rats enjoy gargalesis as well as laugh when tickled.

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