Under the Hood

Human Body Possesses More Than Five Senses; Here's 3 You Didn't Know You Had

Growing up, we all learned about the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. We have the basic understanding of the "Big 5" because they help us function on a day-to-day basis. However, researchers have discovered there are many more sensory perceivers in our bodies that play vital roles in our lives.

In SciShow's video "3 Senses You Didn’t Know You Had," host Hank Green explains the three physical senses that perform functions beyond those of the Big 5, including: thermoception, proprioception, and equilibrioception.

Thermoception

Thermoception helps us keep our body temperature constant, and lets us know when our environment is too hot or too cold. This helps us to avoid tissue damage from burns or frostbite. It is the thermoreceptors in the skin that sense those changes in temperature. Separate thermoreceptors in the brain help detect and regulate changes in our core body temperature.

Proprioception

The ability to know where our body parts are without looking refers to the sense proprioception. For example, if we close our eyes and raise our hand, we'll know where our hand is even without looking. Without proprioception, we would have to constantly look down at our feet to be able to walk. There are specialized receptors in our skin, joints, and muscles that help us do that.

Equilibrioception

Understanding where our body is in space is also related to our sense of balance, or equilibrioception. This ability is regulated by fluid in the inner ear, while working with our sense of vision to navigate us around safely. For example, if we try to spin fast over and over again, we can throw off our equilibrioception, leading to dizziness, and inevitably a loss of balance.

Together, these three senses are essential for us to navigate our environment successfully and safely — even if they're not part of the Big 5.

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