Take your shoes off. Tread along the path barefoot. Go slowly and place your feet carefully. Try to remember how it feels to touch different surface structures. Watch out, some parts may be hot.
Repeat the experiment walking with your eyes shut. Check if you can correctly name the surface material not seeing it.
How does it work
Our sense of touch consists of five types of receptors of different structure, texture, reaction speed, and localisation in our organisms. With two receptors in the top skin layer we sense delicate touch. The receptors placed deeper allow us to perceive pressure and mechanical vibrations. The most deeply located are the receptors responsible for sensing warmth, cold, and pain. When we walk through our textural path, the receptors in our feet record the texture and temperature of all the materials, and then send this information to the brain. The brain can learn, and due that ability it is possible to recognise the surface only by the thermal and touch sensations.
The most sensitive receptors are located on fingertips and lips – under favourable conditions they allow us to feel a deformation of the order of 1 micrometre (0,001 millimetre).
Each body part reacts to a different degree to touch or temperature. Heel is the body part least sensitive to sensing touch.