touch, tactile sensation received by the skin, enabling the organism to detect objects or substances in contact with the body. End organs (nerve endings) in the skin convey the impression to the brain. Touch sensitivity varies in different parts of the body, depending on the number of end organs present in any one area. The tip of the tongue, lips, and fingertips are three of the most sensitive areas, the back and parts of the limbs the least so. The sense of touch is very closely related to the other four sensations received by the skin: pain, pressure, heat, and cold. There is a specific kind of sensory receptor for each of the five so-called cutaneous senses. For example, light-touch receptors convey only the sensation that an object is in contact with the body, while pressure receptors convey the force, or degree, of contact. The blind learn to read by the Braille system by making use of the sensitivity to touch of the fingertips.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The World of Touch
Lester E. Krueger; David Katz; Lester E. Krueger.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1989
Touch in Early Development
Tiffany M. Field.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995
The Psychology of Touch
Morton A. Heller; William Schiff.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1991
Behind Closed Doors: Gender, Sexuality, and Touch in the Doctor/Patient Relationship
Angelica Redleaf; Susan A. Baird.
Auburn House, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Touch"
Touch and Psychotherapy
LaTorre, Mary Anne.
Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, Vol. 36, No. 3, July-September 2000
Meanings of Touch and Forgiveness: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Inquiry
Ferch, Shann R.
Counseling and Values, Vol. 44, No. 3, April 2000
Bodily Sensations
D. M. Armstrong.
Routledge & Paul, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "Immediate Perception by Touch" and Chap. IV "The Relational Nature of Perception by Touch"
Hands Off! The Disappearance of Touch in the Care of Children
Richard T. Johnson.
Peter Lang, 2000
The Body Social: Symbolism, Self, and Society
Anthony Synnott.
Routledge, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Touch"
Search for more books and articles on touch