sensory lab

Last week in our sports medicine class we conducted an extremely interesting lab testing what areas of one’s body is the most sensitive to touch. I was really interested going into the lab because I had never even pondered the thought that maybe certain areas of our body are more responsive to touch as oppose to others.

We tested this idea with the help of a paperclip. The paperclip helped us to measure the different levels of sensitivity among ones body. Our partner would randomly select whether to poke us with one point or two points from the paperclip. When the density of sensory receptors is high, one should be able to tell the difference between the different pokes. When the density of the sensory receptors is low, it might be a lot harder for the individual to tell.

To begin, we got a paperclip and our notes ready. I told my partner, Juliana, to close her eyes or look away while I was poking the back of her hand. I got my paperclip and made sure the 2 points were 2 cm apart. I randomly switched off between one point and two points when I poked her and then I asked her to pick which one she thought I just did. I recorded her response and continued on for 10 total trials (5 pokes with one point and 5 pokes with two). I recorded all of her answers on my table. After those 10 trials were finished, I measured my paperclip to make sure the points were now 1.5 cm apart. I repeated the previous steps and after that was completed, I measured my points to make sure they were now 1 cm apart. Again, I repeated the same previous steps. This process continued as I also measured the paper clip to be .5 cm apart and finally .3 cm apart.

I repeated these exact steps when I did this experiment on her forearm, the back of her hand, and on her fingertips. Below are pictures from my 3 tables of data observation!

Results from paperclip to the back of Juliana’s hand
results from paperclip to Juliana’s fingertip
Results from paperclip to Juliana’s forearm
  1. Before we started the lab, we were asked to make a prediction on which area of our body would be the most sensitive out of the forearm, back of the hand, and the fingertips. I instantly chose the fingertips because I knew that at the very tip of ones fingers is a lot of nerve endings and it can be very sensitive. I was right! Juliana was the most consistent and close to my matchings on her fingertips by far when compared to the other 2 areas.

2. As humans, certain areas of our body have a higher density of receptors. I believe this is important in our lives because some places on our body are used for different tasks. For example, our hands touch textures, pick up objects, and grasp different materials. It is more important for that area to have a higher density of receptors than our forearm.

3. At the beginning of the lab, my partner and I predicted that we would have different levels of density in our bodies. Our data supports this hypothesis because we both had different success rates in determining our partners action. We both definitely made mistakes but overall our data was very different, which supports our initial claim.

4. There are many factors that could account for variation in sensitivity from person to person. If one individual has burned himself multiple times on his left pointer fingertip, he might be less sensitive to touch compared to someone who hasn’t burned her finger. Also, it could depend on skin thickness, bruises, cuts, scabs and more.

5. Many activities can have an impact on one’s sensitivity. Playing guitar, laying bricks, meal preparation, video games and many more would likely decrease the individual’s sensitivity. I personally play guitar and I remember when I first started, my fingertips got very thick and hard and after a couple months, I barely could feel the pain of pushing down the strings. These activities would lessen the density of receptors in the individuals hands.

I had a great time conducting this lab and I learned a ton! Here are some more pictures from me and Juliana’s experience!IMG_4706.JPGIMG_4705.JPGIMG_4704.JPGIMG_4701.JPG