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Cutaneous Sensations

skin, york and psychology

CUTANEOUS SENSATIONS. Those sensations experienced from the excitement solely of the organs of the skin. Although psychologists have been in wide disagreement as to the seat of many specific sensations, it seems now to be definitely decided that sensa tions of the skin are only four in number : pres sure, warmth, cold and pain. Other experiences formerly classified with these, as hardness, dry ness, smoothness, etc., are regarded as being composite in character, including muscular sen sations, and partaking more of the character of perceptions.

In the study of cutaneous sensations the method employed is an of the skin with various instruments, such as a pointed bit of wood or cork, a knitting needle, a fine broom splint or a bit of horse hair. When the skin is touched gently at different places in a small area, it is found that at some points the sensation of pressure is acute, at others dull. In the latter instance it is believed that the sensation is not from the point touched, but from some neighboring point. In the same way the skin is explored with hot and cold instru ments and with sharp-pointed needles. It is found that there are many areas of the skin which are entirely insensible to the prick of a needle which at other points is exquisitely pain ful. An interesting fact is that in some areas

of the skin sensations of cold are excited by the touch of a warm object. These are called They are attributed to special nerve structures which always respond with the same sensation regardless of the ex citing agency. It has been found that children generally have a much more delicate and accu rate sense of touch than adults have. This is ascribed to the probable fact that the nerve structure conveying these sensations is complete in the child, and as there is a much smaller skin surface in the child, the nerve ends are, of course, closer together. Consult Angell, J. R., 'Psychology' (New York 1908) ; Harvey, N. A., 'Physiological Pychology' (Ypsilanti, Mich., 1911) ; Ladd, G. T., of Physiological Psychology> (New York 1900); Scripture, E. W., (Thinking, Feeling, Doing) (New York 1907) Wundt, W. M., of Physio logical Psychology> (Titchener's translation, New York 1910).