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4 Fast Facts about the Somatosensory System

  1. The somatosensory system is also known as the somatic senses, touch or tactile perception.

  2. Anatomically speaking, the somatosensory system is a network of neurons that help humans recognize objects, discriminate textures, generate sensory-motor feedback and exchange social cues.

  3. Sensory neurons relay peripheral sensations such as pain, pressure, movement or temperature from the skin to the brain.
    • Researchers, such as Harvard Medical School’s Dr. David Ginty, work to understand the development, organization, and function of these neurons. Dr. Ginty and his lab use new tools and techniques to explore the somatosensory system and how specific neurons affect touch and pain perception.
  4. Studying the organization of neurons within the somatosensory system helps us understand the ways touch is affected by disease.
    • Dr. Ginty and his team study the changes that are responsible for abnormal touch sensitivity with certain diseases or injuries. “To begin thinking about repairing the damaged nervous system, we have to first understand the organization of the adult nervous system,” Dr. Ginty said in a Harvard Medical School video.

Interested in learning more about the somatosensory system and ongoing research on the sensory neurons of touch? Join us for Dr. Ginty’s upcoming talk on March 7 as part of the Integrative Medicine Research Lecture Series at NIH.