JUN 24, 2017 6:12 PM PDT

Surprise! You have more senses than the five you learned in school!


Remember learning the five senses in elementary school? Go ahead and recite them: sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. Easy, right? Well, turns out there's more to it than just those five basic senses. You actually have three more that you may have never known existed! So what are they? Read on.

Thermoception, or the ability to sense temperature, is a crucial and unique sense, different to that of what we think of when we talk about touch. Thermoception helps us keep our homeostatic norm of not too hot and not too cold. It also lets us know when something in our environment is dangerous, such as that hot stove, or frostbite on your baby toe. While the chemistry behind thermoception still isn't entirely clear, scientists know that the sense is connected to transient receptor protein (TRP) channels. When these TRP channels are activated, they send a signal to the brain warning of a painful temperature and then your body is able to react appropriately.

Another important sense, called proprioception, refers to the ability to know where your body is in space. Proprioception is the sense that allows you to walk without looking down at your feet; it allows me to type these words right now without focusing on the position of every one of my fingers on the keyboard. There are many specialized receptors in our skin, joints, and muscles that are responsible for sending signals to our cerebellum to help us coordinate balance, posture, and voluntary movement. Which brings us to another sense all together: equilibrioception. To learn what equilibrioception does, watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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