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Tee hee: Friday marks 'National Tickle Day'

6:22 AM, Jan 31, 2014   |    comments
Laughter by David Shankbone
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KUSA - Got the giggles today? Well you aren't alone. Friday, Jan. 31 marks National Tickle Day.

So, here are nine fun facts about tickling:

  • What happens when you get tickled? - In simplest terms, nerve endings in your skin send messages to your brain, eventually reaching the cerebellum, the area that regulates initiation of movement. As a result of this sudden touch, your body produces a tickling sensation.
  • What purpose does tickling serve? - Tickling may also have another important evolutionary function: Like itching, tickling may protect us by drawing attention to external stimuli. This type of tickle, called knismesis, rarely produces laughter and is a reaction that humans and animals share.
  • Why can't you tickle yourself? - Essentially, you can't surprise your own brain.
  • Are there any universal ticklish spots? - Where should you launch your next tickle attack? Your best bet is on the sides of the torso (from the armpits to the waist) and soles of the feet. Research on college students reported in the American Scientist found that these were the most ticklish spots.
  • Can tickling be torturous? - If you hate being tickled, feel lucky that you weren't around when tickling was used for corporal punishment. During the 16th century, a Protestant sect would tickle transgressors to death. Ancient Romans provided punishment through tickling too: They tied offenders down, soaked their feet in salt, and had goats lick it off.
  • Do older people get tickled as often as kids? - Is tickling really just child's play? People under age 40 are 10 times more likely to report having been tickled in the past week than people over age 40. One obvious explanation is that there's simply decreased opportunity for tickling with age, as kids get older, for example. Hormonal changes may also decrease the tickle response as you age, which could make you like being tickled less.
  • Can tickling help you lose weight? - It's no joke: Tickling makes you laugh, which burns calories. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that 10 to 15 minutes of laughing burns 10 to 40 extra calories a day - which could add up to one to four pounds in a year.
  • Who likes being tickled more? Men or Women? - In one survey, tickling was slightly less pleasant to women than it was to men, and almost twice as many women as men ranked tickling as "very unpleasant." This may be due to bad experiences related to non-consensual or non-reciprocal sexual touching.
  • How can I 'block' a tickle? - How? Just place your hand on the tickler's hand. It's a trick doctors know well. In doing so, you generate the same motion as the doctor, which tricks your brain into thinking that you're the one doing the tickling. The trouble is that catching the tickler's hand during a surprise ambush can be tough.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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