Many people may assume that humans have the ability to feel wetness. However, the scientific reality reveals that the situation is much more complex. So, can humans really feel wetness? In this article, we will examine the answer to this question in detail.
Wetness Perception: Do Humans Have It?
One might think that humans have the ability to feel wetness, but research on this topic reveals a much more complicated picture. Twitter user @HannahPosted stated that humans do not have a direct way to perceive wetness; instead, they rely on other senses. This explanation is based on a series of studies examining human perception of wetness since 2014.
Wetness Perception: The Role of Senses
A study conducted in 2015 reported that, “Unlike insects, which have widely defined moisture receptors serving hygrosensation, humans do not seem to have such a sense.” It was pointed out that the skin, the largest sensory organ of humans, does not appear to be equipped with specific receptors for sensing moisture and skin wetness.
So, you may wonder how wetness perception occurs. Here is the answer: Even though humans do not have special water sensors, we seem to rely on the combination of other senses. For example, as the temperature of the objects we touch drops, the feeling of wetness increases. This indicates that temperature plays a significant role in our perception of wetness.
Wetness Perception and Temperature Relationship
In an experiment conducted in 2014, various stimuli were placed on the hands and arms of volunteers. The findings showed that a decrease in temperature increases the feeling of wetness, proving that temperature plays a vital role in the perception of wetness.
Another study on wetness perception found that hairy skin is more sensitive to wetness than hairless skin. In this study, it was also found that the feeling of wetness decreases when nerves are blocked.
Wetness Perception: A Scientific Perspective
The lead author of the studies, Dr. Davide Filingeri, stated, “Wetness is one of the most common sensations we experience, and that’s why most people don’t question it.” Filingeri added, “You can fool your brain into feeling wet when something is not wet, or conversely, you can feel dry when something is actually wet.”
For example, if you sit on a metal chair with bare skin, you typically feel wetness. However, the thing that cools your skin rapidly is the coldness of the metal, which creates a feeling of wetness. Similarly, if you wear a latex glove, dip your hand in water, and then remove it, you will likely feel wetness in your hand, even though your skin has not come into contact with moisture.
Details of Wetness Perception: Sensory Inputs and Wetness Perception
Research suggests that “a multimodal integration of thermal (i.e., cold) and mechanical sensory inputs is required to perceive skin wetness.” This is confirmed by the fact that when the activity of A-nerve fibers is selectively reduced, the perceived degree of wetness also significantly decreases.
From a central processing perspective, this is confirmed by the fact that, despite all stimuli having the same levels of moisture, hot-wet and neutral-wet stimuli are perceived as significantly less wet than cold-wet stimuli.
Conclusion: Wetness Perception and Human Senses
In conclusion, technically, humans do not feel wetness, they only understand wetness through other sensory inputs. This provides an interesting insight into how our sensory organs and brain perceive and understand the world around us. Wetness perception represents a complex and still not fully understood area of sensory science.