Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

The Sense of Touch

Beautiful Skin Image Gallery What's going on when we touch something else? See more pictures of getting beautiful skin.

After a long day at work, you walk in the door and slip off those toe-pinching, heel-blistering shoes. You quickly give yourself a therapeutic rub down and then slip into some warm, fuzzy socks. You give your dog a quick pat, grab a soft pillow and finally flop down on the couch. About the time you get into a comfortable position, you realize you set your drink a bit too far away on the table. This isn't a problem, though. While you focus your attention on the TV screen, you reach over and feel around for your hot cup of tea. Once your hand hits the warm ceramic mug, you realize you're home.

Not more than 15 minutes has passed since you walked through the door, but your sense of touch has gathered millions of bits of information from your surroundings. The pain from your pair of shoes is gone, and soft, fluffy comfort has taken over. A cold, wet kiss from your dog has given way to the warm comfort of the couch and a cup of hot tea. From temperature to texture, your sense of touch has been in constant communication with your brain.

Your somatic sensory system is responsible for your sense of touch [source: Neuro Science]. The somatic sensory system has nerve receptors that help you feel when something comes into contact with your skin, such as when a person brushes up against you. These sensory receptors are generally known as touch receptors or pressure receptors. You also have nerve receptors that feel pain and temperature changes such as hot and cold [source: Biology Web].

If you want to learn more about this complex system, read on to find out how your sense of touch works from head to toe and back again.