MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Why Can’t You Tickle Yourself?

I’ve never known anyone who enjoys getting tickled. But I know plenty of people, my wife included, who love to tickle others (namely me). But have you ever wondered why you can’t tickle yourself?

Well, much to the dismay of fun-loving masochists everywhere, the human brain is wired against self-tickling. Because the brain controls movement, it knows what your hand is going to do before you do it. So, it anticipates the exact force, location, and speed of the tickle & uses that information to desensitize you to your own prodding hands.

So, why do we have a tickle response anyway? Well, as it turns out, it’s a defense mechanism that was originally meant to alert our cave-dwelling ancestors to creepy crawlies that didn’t know their place. And the uncontrollable laughing fit that goes along with being tickled is actually a panic response.

Even if you know someone else is about to go for your rib cage, it’s hard to turn the response off because: A) your brain can’t anticipate exactly how & where they’ll tickle you; and B) knowing someone is about to tickle you is usually enough to keep those panic receptors open & ready to fire. So, keep your guard up this weekend against those roving tickle terrorists.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via Twitter (@AndyWebbRadio), or shoot me an email at [email protected].