Seeing as this week is “Halloweek” most people around the nation are getting ready to dress up, basically changing themselves into another character or object. Halloween parties are also a must. I remember at a Halloween party in sixth grade, the host had us reach our hand into different bags to touch “zombie body parts.” We felt his “guts” and his “eyes” and his “blood.” In reality, we were touching cooked spaghetti, peeled grapes, and tomato sauce. These are three foods that I would happily eat at any time of day and none of which gross me out. However, in the moment that I stuck my hand into the three separate bags, I didn’t know WHAT I was feeling. The peeled grapes especially freaked and grossed me out. Tactility is an odd sense because it relies a lot on the brain’s ability to discern what it’s touching. When tactility is isolated, as it is in the case of the “zombie body parts” activity, discerning the objects becomes even harder.
Tactility goes hand in hand with sight. Seeing what you touch can help you make sense of what you’re feeling. When I first felt the food, it all felt disgusting. However, after realizing what it was, I no longer felt that way. Along with sight, our touch perceptions are also influenced by background knowledge. Proprioception “focuses on the cognitive awareness of the body in space.” This cognitive awareness comes from combining multiple senses to create a detailed image or idea of what you’re touching. Relying on tactility alone is not a good strategy when trying to learn the most about something.
I’ve heard that when one of your senses fails to work, the rest of your senses become stronger and more acute. This makes me believe that tactility can potentially become stronger and no longer rely on other senses to accurately represent whatever it is you’re feeling.