Why Can’t We Tickle Ourselves

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Tickling is a great way to make a friend, a couple or any loved one laugh. The link established with the other person is strengthened with this detail. Life usually has difficult moments when it is difficult to be happy. So, a good attitude and a smile are the best allies to scare away bad vibes every time we have the opportunity. In this section, we tell you why can’t we tickle ourselves.

Thus, tickling is a great way to get a smile from a person you love, but could it work with ourselves? Unfortunately, we cannot take advantage of the benefits of laughter by tickling our weak points.

Why can’t we tickle ourselves?

One reason tickles are effective when they come from someone else is that you don’t expect them. Without warning, the contact is unexpected and puts our senses on alert. Also, you can not predict where they will touch you, so the uncertainty is even greater.

possible to tickle

The problem is that the context is very different when you intend to tickle yourself. The cerebellum is the part of the brain responsible for much of our motor ability and when you decide to move. It generates a preview of how the movement will look and feel before carrying it out. In this way, it is practically impossible to surprise yourself with your contact, since you already know how it will happen, how it will feel and when you will stop it.

And what if you tried another object that was not your hand? If you try to tickle objects like a feather, you may feel a slight tickle. Indeed, you cannot predict the sensation. You can still predict the movement. So, contact with your skin will not cause you the surprise, alertness or that feeling of uncertainty about external stimuli that you cannot control.

Mental disorders and tickle

Some people may tickle themselves if they feel they do not have control of their bodies. For example, it has been recorded that patients with certain types of schizophrenia can tickle themselves during periods of hallucination, as they feel that their body movements are not their own and cannot predict them.

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Even if, in practical terms, it is the schizophrenic who makes the movements, the perception of the self is distorted and the person stops identifying their actions as conscious decisions. This is the main difference between people suffering from this type of hallucinations and the rest of the population. It is the brain adapts to the experiences and the environment. Know how to differentiate between the sensations coming from an own act.

Cheating the brain: tickle experiments

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, from University College London, has performed experiments to decipher the functioning of the brain while people were trying to tickle to deceive him.

To achieve this, the team created a machine with which the subjects of the study could expel a foam in their hand to tickle them. Next, the researchers changed the reaction time of the machine so it did not match the predictions made by people. The results determined that the more unpredictable the foam emission time. The subjects could feel more tickle.

This is because the image created by the cerebellum of the movement no longer matches what happens in reality. The foam surprises the brain and causes a stronger reaction in the body.

Tickle benefits

Tickle benefits

Humans are not the only species that knows the tickle. Some animals, such as chimpanzees and gorillas, also practice them as a game, especially extended among their young. Also, as in the human being, great apes do not tickle themselves.

The most sensitive stage to tickle is childhood. Parents take advantage of this game to interact with their babies with fun. Surely many will have done it for entertainment. The truth is that there are many benefits of tickling. These are some:

  • They favor the development of the senses.
  • Enhance social skills.
  • Strengthen the family relationship.
  • They improve their mood.
  • They create an environment in which joy predominates.

Laughter and physical contact have a very important social function in humans, which is why tickles are so popular with friends and loved ones. By laughing and sharing feelings, people improve their relationships and release tensions. It is difficult to tickle ourselves because if we try, the social element is missing and the aim of the act is lost.

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