Scientists suggest that being ticklish is our
defense against creepy crawlies like spiders and
bugs, a physiological response alerting us to a
specific type of threat. That is why vulnerable
parts of our bodies-- feet, chest, and armpits,
are among the most ticklish.
While there is no question that being ticklish
is neurological, scientists contend that it is
also learned. One theory sees ticklishness as a
personality-based response to perceived attack.
Antsy folks may laugh uncontrollably at the
lightest touch, or even without being touched at
all, while folks made of sterner stuff won't budge
during more aggressive tickle attacks.
If you close your eyes and try to remain calm
while you are tickled, you can decrease panic,
reduce giggles, and dull sensation. And, no matter
how hard you try, it is nearly impossible to
Tickling satisfies our human need to touch.
Robert R. Provine, a professor of neuroscience and
author of Quest for Laughter, sees the tickle as a
form of communication between friends, family, and
lovers, playing a key role in the evolution of
social and sexual behavior. He points to chimps
tickling each other during play, parents tickling
little kids, and lovers tickling each other
"If you think the social component is not
important," Provine says, "Try tickling a
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