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You are here: BBC Science > Human Body & Mind > The Body > Nervous system
Fact files

Nervous system - Touch

Combined senses: Your sense of touch combines your response to touch, pressure, pain and temperature

Function: To inform you about what's happening on the surface of your body

Receptors in your skin

Your skin and deeper tissues contain millions of sensory receptors. Without them, you wouldn't be able to sense and respond to your environment. They register what's happening on your body's surface and then send signals to your spinal cord and brain.

Light touch and deep pressure

Other receptors are more complex. The Meissner's corpuscles, for example, are enclosed in a capsule of connective tissue. They react to light touch and are located in the skin of your palms, soles, lips, eyelids, external genitals and nipples. It's because of the Meissner's corpuscles that these areas of your body are particularly sensitive.

Most of your touch receptors sit close to your skin's surface. Some of them, however, are located further down. Receptors such as your Paccinian corpuscules sense pressure and vibration changes deep in your skin.

Pain and temperature

Your skin receptors don't only respond to touch. They also register pain as well as warmth and cold. Your pain receptors are the most numerous. Every square centimetre of your skin contains around 200 pain receptors but only 15 receptors for pressure, 6 for cold and 1 for warmth.

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