Curious Kids: Why are we ticklish?

Curious Kids: Why are we ticklish?

In this article in The Conversation, Cognitive Science's Associate Professor Anina Rich and Professor Mark Williams respond to Magali's (age 10) question: Why are people ticklish and why are different people ticklish in different places?

People have asked this question for years. Lots of scientists have thought they knew the answer but then other scientists have found they were wrong. The real answer is that scientists still don’t really know why we are ticklish.

There are two types of feeling that are described as a “tickle”. Their scientific names are “knismesis” and “gargalesis”.

1) Knismesis occurs from a light touch, like a feather touching you and can happen on the skin anywhere on the body. This type is also seen in cats, dogs and lots of other mammals.

2) Gargalesis occurs from a heavier touch to “ticklish” parts of the body (like the tummy, underarms and the soles of the feet). This can make us laugh even if we don’t want to. This response also happens in apes.

To read more of the article, click here.

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Content owner: Department of Cognitive Science Last updated: 05 Jun 2019 8:57am

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