The New York Times bestselling author examines how our sense of touch and emotion are interconnected
Johns Hopkins neuroscientist and bestselling author of The Compass of Pleasure David J. Linden presents an engaging and fascinating examination of how the interface between our sense of touch and our emotional responses affects our social interactions as well as our general health and development. Accessible in its wit and clarity, Touch explores scientific advances in the understanding of touch that help explain our sense of self and our experience of the world.
From skin to nerves to brain, the organization of the body’s touch circuits powerfully influences our lives—affecting everything from consumer choice to sexual intercourse, tool use to the origins of language, chronic pain to healing. Interpersonal touch is crucial to social bonding and individual development. Linden lucidly explains how sensory and emotional context work together to distinguish between perceptions of what feels good and what feels bad. Linking biology and behavioral science, Linden offers an entertaining and enlightening answer to how we feel in every sense of the word.
The sensation of touch, so ubiquitous in how we interact with our world, gets a sensualist pop-biology treatment from Linden (The Compass of Pleasure), a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His exploration of the relationship between the things we feel with our fingertips and those we feel in our hearts begins with social touch and its lasting effects on babies and rats. Linden covers the basics of tactile receptor types and sensory maps before diving into several chapters all appropriately science-based, yet somehow slightly lurid and intimate on caresses, sexual arousal, and orgasm. In covering some common phenomena, he explains the experience of menthol's cool and capsaicin's heat as not merely a linguistic metaphor, but as a multitasking adaptation of sensory cells. He also addresses strange case studies that reveal biological quirks, such as the story of a woman who, left with an itchy but numb forehead after a bout of shingles, scratched straight through to her brain. Though it's not exactly a neurobiology primer, Linden sandwiches a surprising amount of anatomical information between the stories of bad hand jobs and children who die young because they can't feel pain. Illus.