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The Other Three Senses

You probably know about the 5 senses: sight (visual perception), hearing (auditory system), smell (olfactory), taste (gustatory), touch (tactile), but there are three others to know about:

  • vestibular system
  • proprioception
  • interoception

The vestibular system lets our body and head know where we are positioned in relation space, it is how we physically orient our body and balance. It detects rotation, and linear acceleration and deceleration. In short, it’s what keeps us standing up.

Proprioception refs to our sense of muscles and joint movements. Proprioception senses our relative position of the different parts of our body and it is the sensory system that when we are “clumsy” is impaired. It can be affected by growth (e.g. kids typical physical development), changes in body weight due to fluctuations of body fat (e.g liposuction, body-building).

Interoception concerns the internal physical sensations of the body organs: hunger, thirst, toileting, fatigue. It guides physiological regulation, and creates distinct sensations which we label as subjective feelings, emotion and self-awareness. When a person is hyposensitive to their interoception, they may not notice the cues from their body that tell them they are hungry or full, have a high fever, or not realise they’ve injured themselves. Conversely, when a person is hypersensitive they may eat frequently, go to the bathroom constantly, intensely feel pain and feel uncomfortable a lot of the time.