Touch of Love

By Neelam Daswani

One usual Monday morning, as I was again going to embrace the monotony of life and also once again I was in a rush to catch my usual 6.25 bus to the station, amidst the crowd I saw a lady getting in with her infant. I could see how she was finding it difficult to travel along with a child on a peek hour so owing to courtesy; I offered my seat to her. The infant gave me a wonderful smile throughout, as he held his mother’s finger throughout. Morning after a weekend, where everybody was struggling to make themselves realise that the holiday is over and preparing themselves for the day, that child made my day, my eyes couldn’t get off infant and mom, child was still playing with her finger and her happiness was over the top.

This somehow, reminded me of a survey that was done to understand touch. A study providing evidence of the ability to recognize touch was published in 2012 by a team who used MRI scans to measure brain activation in people being touched. These subjects were all heterosexual males who were shown a video of a man or a woman who was purportedly touching them on the leg. Unsurprisingly, subjects rated the experience of male touch as less pleasant. Brain scans revealed that a part of the brain called the primary somatosensory cortex responded more sharply to a woman’s touch than to a man’s. But here’s the twist: Those videos were fake. It was always a woman touching the subjects. The results were startling, because the primary somatosensory cortex had been thought to encode only basic qualities of touch, such as smoothness or pressure. That its activity varied depending on which subjects believed was touching them suggests that the emotional and social components of touch are all but inseparable from physical sensations.

“When you’re being touched by another person, your brain isn’t set up to give you the objective qualities of that touch,” says study coauthor Michael Spezio, a psychologist at Scripps College. “The entire experience is affected by your social evaluation of the person touching you.” Even in human relationships, touch is a very important phenomenon. It helps in increasing the speed and efficiency of communication: “If you’re close enough to touch, it’s often the easiest way to signal something,” says Laura Guerrero, co-author of Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships, who researches nonverbal and emotional communication at Arizona State University. This efficacy is noteworthy when it comes to bonding. “We feel more connected to someone if they touch us,” Guerrero notes.

This basic human instinct of touch is visible when we go for shopping. Women, especially go more by the touch of cloth more than the color or texture. It is also the fact that touch is often unmisted and apt to judge. Humans generally believe that anything that feels good in terms of touching is of ‘good quality’. The concern today however is… in this era of burgeoning social media, we have lost the feel of humans. Amidst the crowd that we are constantly in, we no longer enjoy this touch.

I finally reached my destiny and I was making my way out of the crowd and suddenly some more chain of thoughts occupied my mind. I realized, In spite of us experiencing this subtle way of love, we fail to acknowledge it. It is a luxury that many cannot have because of the diminishing line between lust and love. Love can be a luxury for many, with changing times and to keep pace with the life we all fail to realize it’s importance and real essence.

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