How Come We Can’t Tickle Ourselves?

How come we can’t tickle ourselves ? It is one of the mysteries of our body and mind. Many neurologists and psychologists have tried to find an explanation to this mystery for a long time without finding the answer. Recently, some British researchers carried out an experiment to show how we handle the tickling process. Scientists at the University College of London worked hard to find the answer to this question. The laugh which results from tickling has been for a long time considered to be the result of a complex social behavior. Indeed, tickling works with friends and family members but not with strangers nor ourselves. This article will try to answer the problem.

A group of scientists in California at the University of San Diego carried out an experiment where people believed they were tickled by a robot. They couldn’t differentiate if it was the robot (which was in fact a human) or a real person who was tickling them. They laughed each time without knowing the real person. Scientists conclude that to laugh from tickling you don’t need to know the person. It seems more like a reflex. But it is different from the test done by the doctor to make sure you have good reflexes when he taps at your knee because you can do it at your self which is not the case for tickling.

The scientists from the University College of London carried out an experiment with a real robot. The robot was able to move around the body by his chains and stimulate the body as tickling do. The tickling worked and make people laugh when the robot was controlled from the external environment by another person. But it didn’t work when the robot was controlled by the person who was tickling himself. The same thing happened without the robot. During the experiment, a brain scanner showed that one more part of the brain was activated during the self-tickling which wasn’t activated when the tickling was done by an external person. Scientists conclude that this area of the brain has the role of censuring the information and thus block tickling to work. The brain actually prevents itself from laughing! Another experiment was done to prove this. The robot was controlled by the person who was tickled but with a half second delay. It showed that the brain block the information for only less than half second and thus in this experiment, the person laughed from its own tickling action.