In addition to the commonly known five senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch – humans also have other senses that are less commonly talked about. Here are the 6th, 7th, and 8th senses:
Proprioception (6th Sense)
This is the sense of body position and movement. It helps you understand where your limbs are in space without having to look at them. This sense is crucial for coordination and balance. It’s why you can walk without watching your feet or touch your nose with your eyes closed.
The sensory organs for proprioception are the proprioceptors, which include muscle spindles, joint capsules, and tendon organs. These receptors are located in muscles, tendons, and joints. They detect the stretch and tension in these areas, informing the brain about the position and movement of different parts of the body.
Vestibular Sense (7th Sense)
This sense is related to balance and spatial orientation. It stems from the inner ear and helps you maintain your balance and understand your body’s movement in space. It’s what keeps you upright when you’re walking or allows you to know you’re moving in a car even if your eyes are closed.
The sensory organ for the vestibular sense is the vestibular system, located in the inner ear. This system includes structures such as the semicircular canals and the otolithic organs (the utricle and saccule). These structures detect changes in head position and movement, providing the brain with information about balance and spatial orientation.
Interoception (8th Sense)
This refers to the sense of the internal state of the body. It helps you understand and feel what’s going on inside your body – like hunger, thirst, heart rate, and the need for bathroom breaks. It’s a key part of experiencing emotions, as many emotions are felt through bodily sensations.
Interoception doesn’t have a single sensory organ. Instead, it involves a variety of receptors throughout the body that monitor internal physiological processes. These include receptors in the organs, muscles, skin, and even the cardiovascular system. They provide information about things like hunger, thirst, digestion, heart rate, and respiratory rate.
Psychedelics Psychosis and the Bodily Self Research
The research article titled “The bodily self from psychosis to psychedelics” conducted in Bar Ilan University Israel, investigates the sense of bodily self in individuals with psychosis, those with substantial psychedelic experiences, and a control group. Using the Moving Rubber Hand Illusion, the study examines how psychedelic and psychiatric experiences impact the bodily self.
In the study, the Moving Rubber Hand Illusion was used to investigate the bodily self. This technique involves a participant observing a rubber hand being touched while their own hand, hidden from view, is touched simultaneously. The illusion creates a feeling that the rubber hand is part of the participant’s body. This method helps in understanding how individuals perceive their body and sense of self, particularly in relation to experiences such as psychosis or psychedelic usage.
It found that psychosis patients exhibited reduced Body Ownership and Sense of Agency, while psychedelic users reported subjective long-lasting changes in the sense of self. However, no significant differences in the bodily self were observed between the psychedelic group and controls. This suggests that while psychedelics induce subjective changes in self-perception, these do not manifest at the level of bodily self as measured in this study. The study contributes to understanding how different states (psychotic and psychedelic) affect self-perception.
Psychedelics and Interoception
Interoception is crucial for understanding our physiological states and emotions. Article by synergetic press suggests that our brain creates models to forecast sensory input. Psychedelics, by altering these predictive models, can potentially enhance interoceptive awareness, which may help in mental health conditions like depression. The article also emphasizes the integration of mind, body, and social interactions, and suggests tools for cultivating interoceptive awareness.
Psilocybin effects on the Insular Cortex
“Acute psilocybin increased cortical activities in rats” is a study investigating the effects of psilocybin on rat brain activity. The study used a combination of blood-oxygenation level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (BOLD fMRI) and immunofluorescence (IF) of EGR1, a gene related to depressive symptoms and cancer. The research aimed to explore how psilocybin affects resting-state brain activity and functional connectivity. It found that psilocybin led to positive brain activities in specific brain regions and increased interconnectivity among several areas. This study provides insights into the effects of psilocybin on brain function and its potential therapeutic impact.
Using Microdosing to enhance Sense Perception
Microdosing, typically involving the consumption of very small, sub-hallucinogenic amounts of substances like psychedelics, is claimed by some to enhance various aspects of cognition and perception. However, it’s important to note that the scientific research in this area is still in its early stages, and much of the evidence for these claims is anecdotal. Here’s how microdosing might influence sense perception:
Enhanced Sensory Acuity
Some individuals report that microdosing can lead to heightened sensory perception. This could mean more vivid colors, sharper auditory perception, or a heightened sense of taste and smell. These effects could be due to the alteration of neurotransmitter systems in the brain, which are involved in how we process sensory information.
Improved Proprioception and Body Awareness
In certain cases microdosing could enhance proprioception, potentially improving balance, coordination, and body awareness. This could be beneficial in activities that require precise body control, like certain sports or dance.
Microdosing can lead to a greater awareness of internal bodily states, potentially improving interoception. This could manifest as being more in tune with signals like hunger, thirst, and fatigue.
Increased Emotional Sensitivity
While not a traditional sense, emotional sensitivity is often reported to be enhanced under the influence of microdosed substances. This could involve a heightened sense of empathy or a deeper emotional response to everyday interactions.
Despite these anecdotal reports, it’s crucial to approach the topic with caution. The long-term effects of microdosing are not well understood, and the practice is not without risks. It’s also worth noting that the possession and use of many psychedelics are illegal in many countries. More robust scientific research is needed to understand the true impact of microdosing on sense perception and other cognitive functions.