cschoonover's picture

The Itch: Mind Over Matter?

    Imagine an army of ants crawling up your back. Slowly they move up your spine, their short legs scurrying along. Eventually they reach your neck, briefly touching your skin before they move up the back of your head. Does your skin feel tingly? Did your head start to itch? Did you give in to the temptation to scratch? If so, you aren’t alone; I had those same sensations as I was writing this. That inexplicable sensation of itching just by reading about it is not uncommon. Atul Gawande, in The Itch, a treatise on itching published in The New Yorker, described a similar experience.

smkaplan's picture

'Extra-sensory' perception: a question of access

Reading Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation for my book commentary for this course, I came across an interesting passage in which Grandin notes that on a very basic level, human beings and animals have the same kinds of brain cells—the same neurons—we just use them differently. Grandin concludes, “That means that theoretically we could have extreme perception the way animals do if we figured out how to use the sensory processing cells in our brains the way animals do” (63).

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