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The Smallest Touch: Exploring Thresholds of Sensitivity
Grade Level: Accessible enough for 6th graders, but options provided can be challenging enough for 12th graders; Type: Life Science (Human Perception, Tactile Sensitivity)
- Discover the smallest, lightest touch we can detect.
- Learn about tactile receptors, tactile discrimination, and receptive fields
- Optional: To learn about the peripheral and central neural mechanisms that underlie receptive fields.
- What is a "threshold of sensitivity"?
- What is a "tactile receptor"?
- What is a "receptive field"?
- Why do some parts of our body have a lower threshold of sensitivity than others?
- Optional: What are the "receptor mechanisms" that enable us to sense tactile stimuli? What is is the neural mechanism underlying a "receptive field"?
Our “tactile detection threshold” is the smallest amount of touch that we can detect. This experiment will use blindfolded subjects to test the outer and inner surface of their lower arm with increasingly thick pieces of fishing line – homemade ‘Von Frey Hairs,’ named after the researcher who first devised this testing technique.
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