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What is hot? What is cold? From which surfaces do dangers emanate? Tactile perception is elementary for the sensation of touch and potential hazards such as heat. In general, tactile perception is a vital sensory system that is controlled by the skin and its receptors.
With the help of this system, we can sense potential dangers. Meanwhile, various perception disorders are known that can also significantly affect this area. Tactile perception can already be effectively promoted in children with appealing support. Find out here how you can do this.
Tactile Perception – What Is It Actually?
The term tactile perception is extremely comprehensive and describes everything that humans perceive through the skin. In this respect, the skin has several receptors with different functions. The sensation of pain is controlled via the pain receptors.
We can perceive temperature stimuli via the thermoreceptors. The mechanoreceptors, on the other hand, are responsible for the perception of touch, vibration, or pressure. The transmission of the perceived stimuli takes place directly from the receptors, via nerve fibers, into the central nervous system.
High Receptor Density For Tactile Perception
For the sense of touch – as tactile perception is also called – to function, the skin has an enormous density of receptors.
One square centimeter of skin is equipped with approximately two points for the sensation of warmth, an average of 13 points for the sensation of cold, an average of 25 additional points for the sensation of pressure, and an average of 200 points for pain. The individual points are thus minimally small.
The Pain Receptors In Detail
The individual pain receptors are located within the epithelial layer, which is found on the surface of the skin. These are free ends of, particularly sensitive nerves. As soon as these nerves experience a stimulus, they transmit the feeling of pain to the central nervous system.
Itch stimuli are also perceived by the pain receptors. However, itching is a subliminal pain sensation.
The Thermoreceptors In Detail
The thermoreceptors are located within the hypodermis and dermis. These are nerve endings and nerve end corpuscles that perceive corresponding stimuli. They react to temperatures and temperature changes. Up to a temperature of 43 degrees, the thermoreceptors can react according to their purpose.
At temperatures above 43 degrees, the heat stimulus is transformed into a painful heat stimulus. In this process, the pain receptors are activated.
Similar to the thermoreceptors and pain receptors, the mechanoreceptors are also nerve endings. However, these receptors react particularly to mechanical stimuli such as pressure or touch. Mechanoreceptors are divided into further subcategories, whereby they all have an independent function.
The tactile receptors are the so-called Meissner corpuscles and Merkel cells. They are found in hairless skin. They are particularly dense on the fingertips, nipples, tongue, lips, and external genitalia. In general, they are also described as pressure receptors.
The stretch receptors are the Ruffini corpuscles. These small corpuscles perceive skin stretching. They are located in the dermis.
The Necessity Of Tactile Perceptions
With the help of tactile perception, we can explore and grasp the environment. Through this form of perception, we can gather information about objects, the environment, and much more. In contrast to haptic perception, tactile perception is always passive.
Explanation: The terms haptic and tactile both stand for “relating to the sense of touch”. Haptic always describes active exploration, while tactile means passive exploration. Haptic is based on the term haptics, which can be traced back to the German psychologist Max Dessoir.
In 1892, he wanted to use this term to designate the tactile sensory system, based on the terms optics and acoustics.
Tactile Perception Can Protect Us From Danger
Tactile perception can protect us from significant harm. By transmitting stimuli directly to the central nervous system, we can respond immediately to hazards such as heat, excessive pressure, and more.
Painful stimuli are perceived, usually forcing us to take a reflex action. For example, if we accidentally come close to a hot oven while baking, we involuntarily pull our hands out of the danger zone.
Possible Problems With Impaired Tactile Perception
Under certain circumstances, tactile perception is impaired. This can be the case, for example, with nerve damage. On the one hand, damage can result in an increased perception of stimuli, but on the other hand, it can also result in reduced perception.
Furthermore, various sensations are possible. Sensory disturbances, itching, or pain may also occur as a result of perceptual disturbances.
Mental Disorders Can Influence Tactile Perception
Perceptual disorders can be congenital or acquired. Often, they are developmental or mental disorders and diseases.
For example, people with a disorder from the autism spectrum or even children with trisomy 21 can show significant limitations in tactile perception. This affects both the haptic and tactile areas.
Promoting Tactile Perception In Children
Quite a few children have considerable difficulties with tactile perception. In this context, it can be useful to actively promote this. You have the opportunity to support your child accordingly. When it comes to tactile perception, you could, for example, play a tactile memory game with your child.
For this, you take two opaque bags and fill each one with the same material. For example, you could fill each bag with a pine cone, a leaf, a stone, a marble, or other materials. Your child now has to pick out the matching pieces from each bag without looking.
Children Should Explore A Lot
For tactile perception, children must explore as much as possible “on their own”. Especially in nature, many different materials and objects feel very individual.
For example, the gravel on the gravel path, the sand on the playground, the leaves or grass underfoot. All these things trigger a different feeling that can be perceived tactilely.
Water should also not be neglected in this context. In principle, water is an excellent way to give children not only the feeling of wetness but also differences in temperature.
Bean Bath, Chestnuts, Acorns And Co.
The toy industry now offers numerous ways of encouraging children’s tactile perception through play. However, it doesn’t always have to be expensive toys. The DIY trend can also be optimally implemented in this context.
For example, you can take a large box that offers enough space for your child to sit inside. You can fill the box with different materials like beans, chestnuts, acorns, and more. Your child can then sit in the box and feel with their whole body.
Promoting Tactile Perception Therapeutically
Various therapies offer the opportunity to promote perceptions in the area of haptic and tactile. For example, occupational therapy can select excellent approaches to improve children’s tactile experience. Motopaedists also know different solutions.
If limitations in tactile perception are due to a developmental delay or a general condition, early intervention services can play a significant part in improving the sense of touch.
If you have the feeling that your child has difficulties with tactile perception, it is advisable to go to the pediatrician first. He or she will suggest suitable solutions and may issue a prescription.
FAQ’s On The Topic Of Tactile Perception
1. Why is tactile perception important?
Tactile perception is necessary to fully perceive the environment. Furthermore, it protects us from potential harm such as extreme heat or cold.
2. Are there games to promote tactile perception?
A variety of different games for promoting tactile and haptic perception are commercially available. For example, tactile memories.
3. What promotes tactile perception?
To promote tactile perception, it makes sense to touch as many different things as possible. There are particularly many stimuli in nature. Here, children have the opportunity to gain tactile experience by touching a wide variety of things such as grass, sand, pebbles, and more.
4. How does tactile perception develop?
While the receptors necessary for tactile perception develop as early as the second month of pregnancy or from the 5th week of pregnancy, perception itself develops particularly intensively through experience.