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touch

touch / ch/ • v. [tr.] 1. come so close to (an object) as to be or come into contact with it: the dog had one paw outstretched, not quite touching the ground. ∎  bring one's hand or another part of one's body into contact with: he touched a strand of her hair | she lowered her head to touch his fingers with her lips. ∎  (touch something to) move a part of one's body to bring it into contact with: he gently touched his lips to her cheek. ∎  lightly press or strike (a button or key on a device or instrument) to operate or play it: he touched a button on the control pad. ∎  [intr.] (of two people or two or more things, typically ones of the same kind) come into contact with each other: for a moment their fingers touched. ∎  cause (two or more things, typically ones of the same kind) to come into contact: we touched wheels and nearly came off the road. ∎  Geom. be tangent to (a curve or surface) at a certain point. ∎ inf. reach (a specified level or amount): sales touched twenty grand last year. ∎  inf. be comparable to in quality or excellence: there's no one who can touch him at lightweight judo. 2. handle in order to manipulate, alter, or otherwise affect, esp. in an adverse way: I didn't play her records or touch any of her stuff. ∎  cause harm to (someone): I've got friends who'll pull strings—nobody will dare touch me. ∎  take some of (a store, esp. of money) for use: in three years I haven't touched a cent of the money. ∎  consume a small amount of (food or drink): the beer by his right hand was hardly touched. ∎  used to indicate that something is avoided or rejected: he was good only for the jobs that nobody else would touch. ∎  (touch someone for) inf. ask someone for (money or some other commodity) as a loan or gift: he touched me for his fare. 3. have an effect on; make a difference to: a tenth of state companies have been touched by privatization. ∎  be relevant to: some Canadian interests touched European powers. ∎  (usu. be touched) (of a quality or feature) be visible or apparent in the appearance or character of (something): the trees were beginning to be touched by the colors of autumn. ∎  reach and affect the appearance of: a wry smile touched his lips. ∎  (touch something in) chiefly Art lightly mark in features or other details with a brush or pencil. ∎  (often be touched) produce feelings of affection, gratitude, or sympathy in: she was touched by her friend's loyalty. ∎  [as adj.] (touched) inf. slightly insane. • n. 1. an act of bringing a part of one's body, typically one's hand, into contact with someone or something: her touch on his shoulder was hesitant | expressions of love through words and touch. ∎  [in sing.] an act of lightly pressing or striking something in order to move or operate it: you can manipulate images on the screen at the touch of a key. ∎  the faculty of perception through physical contact, esp. with the fingers: reading by touch. ∎  a musician's manner of playing keys or strings. ∎  the manner in which a musical instrument's keys or strings respond to being played: Viennese instruments with their too delicate touch. ∎  a light stroke with a pen, pencil, etc. ∎  [in sing.] inf., dated an act of asking for and getting money or some other commodity from someone as a loan or gift: I only tolerated him because he was good for a touch now and then. ∎  [in sing.] archaic a thing or an action that tries out the worth or character of something; a test: you must put your fate to the touch. 2. a small amount; a trace: add a touch of vinegar he retired to bed with a touch of the flu. ∎  a detail or feature, typically one that gives something a distinctive character: the film's most inventive touch. ∎  [in sing.] a distinctive manner or method of dealing with something: later he showed a surer political touch. ∎  [in sing.] an ability to deal with something successfully: getting caught looks so incompetent, as though we're losing our touch. 3. Bell-ringing a series of changes shorter than a peal. 4. short for touch football. PHRASES: a touch to a slight degree; a little: the water was a touch too chilly for us. in touch 1. in or into communication: she said that you kept in touch, that you wrote | ask someone to put you in touch with other suppliers. 2. possessing up-to-date knowledge: we need to keep in touch with the latest developments. ∎  having an intuitive or empathetic awareness: you need to be in touch with your feelings. lose touch 1. cease to correspond or be in communication: I lost touch with him when he joined the air force. 2. cease to be aware or informed: we cannot lose touch with political reality. out of touch lacking knowledge or information concerning current events and developments: he seems surprisingly out of touch with recent economic thinking. ∎  lacking in awareness or sympathy: we have been betrayed by a government out of touch with our values. to the touch used to describe the qualities of something perceived by touching it or the sensations felt by someone who is touched: the silk was slightly rough to the touch the ankle was swollen and painful to the touch. touch base (with) see base1 . touch bottom reach the bottom of a body of water with one's feet or a pole. ∎  be at the lowest or worst point: the housing market has touched bottom. touch a chordsee chord2 . touch woodsee wood. would not touch something with a ten-foot pole inf. used to express a refusal to have anything to do with someone or something: relax, I wouldn't touch you with a ten-foot pole!PHRASAL VERBS: touch at (of a ship or someone in it) call briefly at (a port). touch down (of an aircraft or spacecraft) make contact with the ground in landing. touch something off cause something to ignite or explode by touching it with a match. ∎  cause something to happen, esp. suddenly: there was concern that the move could touch off a trade war. touch on (or upon) 1. deal briefly with (a subject) in written or spoken discussion: he touches upon several themes from the last chapter. 2. come near to being: a self-confident manner touching on the arrogant. touch something up make small improvements to something: these paints are handy for touching up small areas on walls or ceilings.touch wood see knock on wood at wood.DERIVATIVES: touch·a·ble adj. touch·er n.

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"touch." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"touch." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 25, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/touch-1

"touch." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved June 25, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/touch-1

Touch

Touch

Touch is one of the five major sensory channels by which humans sample and experience their environment. The word "touch" describes the sensory experience resulting from gentle contact of the skin with the environment, including air moving over the skin and hairs. The sense of touch is so exquisitely sensitive that the brain can consciously experience the activity of a single neuron supplying the skin. Touch sensation not only informs one about the near environment but plays an essential role in guiding fine movements basic to such skills as playing musical instruments, reading Braille, typing on a computer keyboard, or performing surgery.

Touch (mechanoreception) is distinguished from pain (nociception) and temperature perception (thermoreception). Pain is sensed by free nerve endings, mostly located in the skin, bones, and joint capsules, and around blood vessels. Two broad categories of painful sensations, fast pricking pain versus slow aching or burning pain, are carried to the spine by two different types of sensory neurons. Thermoreceptors are located immediately below the skin, with warmth receptors more numerous than cool receptors. They are most sensitive not to absolute level of temperature, but to rapid change in temperature, and quickly become quieter once the temperature has stabilized at a new level.

Detection of touch stimuli begins with mechanical deformation of several types of specialized touch receptors, distributed unevenly over the body surface. Nerve fiber endings in the skin may be free, "naked" endings (for light touch) or more commonly are associated with other, cooperating cells. Thus nerve endings that wrap around hair follicles are activated by hair movement; other nerve endings adhere closely to specialized accessory cells or have tiny cellular capsules. The latter include pacinian corpuscles for vibration, and Meissner corpuscles (abundant in sensitive, hairless skin of the fingertips) for light touch. Ruffini corpuscles and Merkel disks respond to pressure or to stretch of the skin with signals that continue as long as a stimulus is applied.

When any of these touch-sensitive nerve endings are mechanically deformed, electrical signals (action potentials) are transmitted along the axons of sensory nerve cells. These signals pass rapidly to the spinal cord and brainstem to activate a second set of neurons. As these secondary touch cells relay information up the brainstem, their axons cross the body's midline, so that the touch information they carry activates neurons in the thalamus on the side opposite the stimulation. Thalamic neurons transmit the signal to the primary sensory cortex in the brain's postcentral gyrus, where touch is actually experienced.

All of the touch information transmitted from the various receptor types in a given body area is combined in the cerebral cortex . It provides sophisticated analysis of the total pattern of nerve signals so that one can instantly (and consciously) judge the texture, force, location, and movement of the skin stimulus with great precision.

Touch sensitivity varies in different body regions because of differential density of distribution of the specific nerve endings. Areas such as the fingertips and lips (glabrous skin) are richly endowed with nerve endings and are very sensitive. Hairy skin has fewer endings and different kinds, and so produces a different sensory experience; skin of the trunk and back, with a low density of touch receptors, is less sensitive to touch than skin elsewhere.

Touch receptors branch out at their ends, and a single neuron may receive input from a region of the skin several centimeters in diameter, called its receptor field. Receptor fields in the lips may be as small as 2 to 3 millimeters (.78 to .118 inches), while in much of the rest of the body they are 4 to 7 centimeters (1.5 to 2.7 inches).

see also Central Nervous System; Neuron; Peripheral Nervous System; Skin

James L. Culberson

Bibliography

Delcomyn, Fred. Foundations of Neurobiology. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1998.

Kandel, Eric. R., James H. Schwartz, and Thomas M. Jessell, eds. Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior. Norwalk, CT: Appleton and Lange, 1995.

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Touch

Touch

The skin sense that allows us to perceive pressure and related sensations, including temperature and pain.

The sense of touch is located in the skin, which is composed of three layers: the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. Different types of sensory receptors, varying in size, shape, number, and distribution within the skin, are responsible for relaying information about pressure, temperature, and pain . The largest touch sensor, the Pacinian corpuscle, is located in the hypodermis, the innermost thick fatty layer of skin, which responds to vibration. Free nerve endingsneurons that originate in the spinal cord, enter and remain in the skintransmit information about temperature and pain from their location at the bottom of the epidermis. Hair receptors in the dermis, which are wrapped around each follicle, respond to the pressure produced when the hairs are bent. All the sensory receptors respond not to continued pressure but rather to changes in pressure, adapting quickly to each new change, so that, for example, the skin is unaware of the continual pressure produced by clothes. Once stimulated by sensation, the receptors trigger nerve impulses which travel to the somatosensory cortex in the parietal lobe of the brain , where they are transformed into sensations. Sensitivity to touch varies greatly among different parts of the body. Areas that are highly sensitive, such as the fingers and lips, correspond to a proportionately large area of the sensory cortex.

Sensory receptors encode various types of information about objects with which the skin comes in contact. We can tell how heavy an object is by both the firing rate of individual neurons and by the number of neurons stimulated. (Both the firing rate and the number of neurons are higher with a heavier object.) Changes in the firing rate of neurons tell us whether an object is stationary or vibrating, and the spatial organization of the neurons gives us information about its location.

The temperature of human skin is usually about 89°F (32°C). Objects or surroundings at this level known as physiological zeroproduce no sensation of temperature. Warmth is felt at higher temperatures and coldness at lower ones. Some of the sensory receptors in the skin respond specifically to changes in temperature. These receptors are further specialized, as certain ones sense warmth and increase their firing rates in temperatures of 95 to 115°F (33 to 46°C), while others sense cold. Sensations of warmth and coldness are differentiated on a skin area as small as one square centimeter. Within that area, cold will be felt at about six points and warmth at two. When cold and warm stimuli are touched at the same time, a sensation of extreme heat is felt, a phenomenon known as "paradoxical hotness." Touch and temperature interact in some sensors, producing phenomena such as the fact that warm and cold objects feel heavier than those at moderate temperatures.

With free nerve endings as receptors, pain carries information to the brain about a real or potential injury to the body. Pain from the skin is transmitted through two types of nerve fibers. A-delta fibers relay sharp, pricking types of pain, while C fibers carry dull aches and burning sensations. Pain impulses are relayed to the spinal cord, where they interact with special neurons that transmit signals to the thalamus and other areas of the brain. Each neuron responds to a number of different pain stimuli. Pain is carried by many types of neurotransmitters, a fact that has made it possible to develop numerous types of pain-relieving medications. Many factors affect how pain is experienced. Pain thresholds vary with the individual and the occasion. Intensely concentrated activity may diminish or even eliminate the perception of pain for the duration of the activity. Natural mechanisms, including replacement by input from other senses, can block pain sensations. The brain can also block pain by signals sent through the spinal cord, a process that involves the neurotransmitter serotonin and natural painkillers known as endorphins.

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"Touch." Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Touch

Touch

Touch is one of the five senses through which animals interpret the world around them. (The other senses are smell, taste, sight, and hearing.) While the organs of the other senses are located primarily in a single area (such as sight in the eyes and taste in the tongue), the sensation of touch can be experienced anywhere on the body, from the top of the head to the tips of the toes.

Without the sense of touch, animals would not be able to recognize pain, which would greatly decrease their chances for survival. Research also has shown that touch is an important factor in child development, persuasion, healing, and reducing anxiety and tension.

How we feel the outside world

The sense of touch is based primarily in the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis. Nerve receptors in the epidermis respond to outside stimuli by sending impulses along nerves through the central nervous system to the brain. The brain, in turn, interprets these impulses as heat, cold, pain, or pressure.

Scientists have identified several types of touch receptors, or nerve endings. One type is associated mainly with light pressure (such as wind) and pain and occurs at the base of hairs throughout the body. Another is found in the fingertips and areas especially sensitive to touch, such as the tongue and the soles of the feet. A third type is found in deep tissues in the joints, reproductive organs, and milk glands and is extremely sensitive to pressure and rapid movement of the tissues. The skin also contains specific receptors for sensing heat and cold as well as intense pain.

Words to Know

Epidermis: The outer layer of skin.

Nerve receptor: Nerve endings or specialized cells that are in close contact with nerves.

Stimulus: Anything that causes a response.

These receptors also are found in greater numbers on different parts of the body. The back is the least sensitive to touch, while the lips, tongue, and fingertips are most sensitive. Most receptors for cold are found on the surface of the face while receptors for warmth usually lie deeper in the skin and are fewer in number. A light breeze on the arm or head is felt because there tend to be more sense receptors at the base of the hairs than anywhere else.

Touch and health

Numerous studies of humans and other animals have shown that touch greatly affects physical development and mental well being. Premature babies that receive regular messages gain weight more rapidly and develop faster mentally than those who do not receive the same attention. Touch also appears to be a factor in emotional stability. Difficult children often have a history of abuse and neglect. Touch provides reassurance to infants that they are loved and safe. In general, babies who are held and touched tend to be more alert and aware of their surroundings.

Touch continues to have a psychological impact throughout peoples' lives. Adults who are hospitalized or sick at home have less anxiety and tension headaches when they are regularly touched or caressed by caretakers or loved ones. Touch also has a healing power and has been shown to have the capacity to reduce rapid heartbeats and restore irregular heartbeats to normal rhythm.

Touch is a powerful persuasive force. Salespeople often use touch to establish a bond that can result in better sales. People also are more likely to respond positively to a request if it is accompanied by a slight touch on the arm or hand.

[See also Perception ]

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"Touch." UXL Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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touch

touch, tactile sensation received by the skin, enabling the organism to detect objects or substances in contact with the body. End organs (nerve endings) in the skin convey the impression to the brain. Touch sensitivity varies in different parts of the body, depending on the number of end organs present in any one area. The tip of the tongue, lips, and fingertips are three of the most sensitive areas, the back and parts of the limbs the least so. The sense of touch is very closely related to the other four sensations received by the skin: pain, pressure, heat, and cold. There is a specific kind of sensory receptor for each of the five so-called cutaneous senses. For example, light-touch receptors convey only the sensation that an object is in contact with the body, while pressure receptors convey the force, or degree, of contact. The blind learn to read by the Braille system by making use of the sensitivity to touch of the fingertips.

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"touch." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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touch

touch he that touches pitch shall be defiled proverbial saying, early 14th century, meaning that a person who chooses to put themselves in contact with wrongdoing will be marked by it; with allusion to Ecclesiasticus 12:1, ‘he that toucheth pitch, shall be defiled therewith’. (Compare if you play with fire you get burnt.)

See also touch base with, touch one's forelock, kick into touch, the Midas touch, the Nelson touch, if you gently touch a nettle, touch wood.

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"touch." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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touch

touch vb. XIII. ME. toche, t(o)uche — OF. tochier, tuchier (mod. toucher) :- Rom. *toccāre make a sound like toc, of imit. orig. Much used in comps., spec. with ref. to ready ignition (prob. from OF. toucher set fire), as in touch-hole, touchwood XVI; also touchstone stone to test gold and silver alloys (XVI), based on OF. touchepierre.
Hence touchy easily moved to take offence; †easily ignited; risky. XVII. perh. partly an alt. of TETCHY; see -Y1.

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touch

touch (Ger. Anschlag).
1. Applied to kbd. instr., the weight required to bring keys into effect. Applied to performers it means the manner of pressing or striking the keys and is one of the most subtle and indefinable facets of the art of pf.-playing.

2. (Old Eng.). Sound. Also used in 16th and 17th cents. to mean toccata, e.g. a touch by Byrd.

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"touch." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Touch

397. Touch

See also 309. PERCEPTION .

haptophobia, haphophobia
an abnormal fear of touching or being touched. Also called thixophobia .
thigmotaxis
involuntary response or reaction to the touch of outside objects or bodies, as in motile cells. thigmotaetic, adj.
thixophobia
haptophobia.

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"Touch." -Ologies and -Isms. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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touch

touch.
1. Black basalt or basanite, capable of being carved, used for fonts and tombs, e.g. the Tournai fonts of Hants.

2. Compact dark-coloured stone, such as Petworth or Purbeck marble, capable of taking a high polish, used for Gothic shafts, tombs, etc.

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"touch." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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touch

touch The sense that enables the texture of objects and substances to be perceived. Touch receptors occur in the skin, being concentrated in the tips of the finger in humans (see Meissner's corpuscles).

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"touch." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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touch

touch One of the five senses, functioning by means of specialized nerve receptors in the skin. The stimulated receptors activate nerve impulses that are sent to the brain.

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touch

touchclutch, crutch, Dutch, hutch, inasmuch, insomuch, much, mutch, scutch, such, thrutch, touch •nonesuch

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