You have more than five senses

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Friday, December 6, 2013


WHEN you were a lot younger in grade school, your science teacher told you that you had five senses: touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste.

This was of course based on what she learned when she was in grade school, and she was taught by her teacher about the five senses because that’s what they were taught back in school and so on.

If someone told you that you had a sixth sense, you might fancy yourself as some kind of hero and try to read people’s minds by staring at them… which, unfortunately, does nothing but make people feel uncomfortable.

No, in actuality, we all have sixth senses – because most researchers believe that the human body has about 21 different senses, not five.

Every sense controls its own region of the brain. Some of them may seem similar to the five commonly known senses, but in fact use totally different areas of the brain to function. A sense is defined as “the sensory mechanisms constituting a unit distinct from other functions.”

Aside from the five common senses, here is a partial list of some new ones that you’ve had forever, but your science teacher never told you about:

1. Pressure – This sense is distinct from touch. If your sense of touch tells you what the texture of an object is, then your sense of pressure tells you how much force you’re putting on that object.

2. Thermoception – Basically, it’s your sense of heat and cold, once again, completely separate from touch.

3. Proprioception – This sense tells you where your body parts are in relation to your other body parts. After a night of heavy drinking, this sense tends to fail, which is why most people have trouble walking after downing half a bottle of vodka.

4. Nociception – Your sense of pain.

5. Equilibrioception – Your sense of balance. The sensory organ for this sense is found in your inner ear, and every time you get carsick or seasick, this organ is the cause of the problem.

6. Thirst – Yes, thirst is its own sense. The body monitors its hydration level and tells you when to drink.

7. Hunger – The food version of thirst.

8. Magnetoception – This is probably the weakest human sense. This is the ability of people to detect magnetic fields, useful for providing a sense of direction. It’s not very well understood yet, but research shows that people with magnetic implants have stronger magnetoception than those without.

9. Time – There is no unique sensory organ for this one, but you can’t deny that you have a sense of time. It’s not a sense that determines whether it’s night or day, it actually determines how long or short you have been doing an activity.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 06, 2013.

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