How Do You Tickle Yourself?


Quick Answer

It is not possible for a human to tickle himself. According to HowStuffWorks, scientists at the University College London who study brains say the cerebellum is to blame for why self-tickling is impossible.

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Full Answer

The cerebellum is the part of the brain that monitors movements and tells the difference between an unexpected and expected sensation. Because of the cerebellum, the brain does not pay as much attention to expected sensations as it does to those that are unexpected, such as a tap on the shoulder. The cerebellum knows when to expect self-tickling, so it ignores the sensation, according to HowStuffWorks.

Popular Science quotes neuroscientist Robert R. Provine as saying tickling is partly designed for social bonding between friends and helps build relationships. Tickling could also help hone self-defense abilities and reflexes. According to Popular Science, University of Iowa psychiatrist Donald Black states that ticklish parts of the human body, such as the neck and ribs, are vulnerable in combat, and through tickling, children learn how to protect those areas.

Since the benefits of tickling are limited to interactions with peers, it is understandable that the cerebellum would ignore self-tickling. This idea is further supported by the fact that most adults cease being ticklish around 40 years of age, which is long after tickling would have benefits, according to Popular Science.

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