See how she leans her cheek upon her hand.
O, that I were a glove upon that hand
That I might touch that cheek!
— William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Somatic Information: (sensory information) brought to a person by (somatosensory receptors) that 'suffuse' (spread through) the body's skin and inner tissues. (Blakeslee, 214) You feel (someone’s) touch. You feel textures. (Ramachandran, 97)

The dry grain of a wooden deck, the slippery wetness of a bar of soap. Such tactile sensations are fundamentally external, originating from the world outside your body. Receptors in the skin sense heat, cold, pain, sensual touch, and perhaps tickle and itch as well. (RamachandranTTB, 97-98) Blind people often say that using a cane enables them to “see” their surroundings, as touch, action, and sound are immediately transformed into a ‘visual’ picture. The cane acts as a “sensory” substitution. (Sacks3, 235) Also referred to as 'flesh-bound senses.'


Pain: an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. (IASP, Taxonomy) A homeostatic experience from your body like thirst, itch, or nausea. Can be viewed as a loss of “homeostasis.” Under conditions of pain, your normal homeostatic mechanisms cannot, by themselves, bring you back into balance. Your attention is focused on attaining relief or getting help. (Blakeslee, 195) Pain itself is an “illusion" - constructed entirely in your brain like any other sensory experience. (Ramachandran, 8) (This) unpleasant sensation of physical discomfort or suffering … occurs in varying degrees of intensity. (Hockenbury, 102)

Acute Pain: pain that comes on quickly, can be severe, but lasts a relatively short time. (NCIt)

Central Pain: searing pain in the body that stems from direct damage to the central nervous system rather than to any of the body’s external tissues. (Blakeslee, 192) Also referred to as 'DeGroot’s condition.'

Chronic Pain: pain without injury. Often develops after an injury has healed. Intensifies when there are no longer any noxious or injurious signals to excite "pain neurons." (Fields, 184) In chronic pain sufferers, normal sensations become painful because their pain neurons have grown extremely hyperactive as a result of a previous injury, causing these individuals to suffer intense and unrelenting physical pain. (Fields, 202)

Gate-Control Theory of Pain: the theory that pain is a product of both physiological and psychological factors that cause spinal gates to open and relay patterns of intense stimulation to the brain, which perceives them as pain. (Hockenbury, 104)

Nociceptive Pain: dull or sharp aching pain caused by stimulated “nociceptors” due to “tissue” injury, “inflammation” or diseases. It can be divided into somatic or tissue pain and “visceral” pain. (MeSH)

Visceral Pain: pain originating from internal organs (“viscera”) associated with “autonomic” phenomena. (MeSH

Space: the bubble of space beyond a person’s body that his brain includes as part of him in its map of his body. (Blakeslee, 214) The awareness of the spatial properties of objects; includes physical space. (MeSH) Also referred to as ‘peripersonal space.’

Extrapersonal Space: the volume of space beyond your peripersonal space. (Blakeslee 212) 

Space Zones: a code for communication through physical distance. (McCornack, 232) Also referred to as 'proxemics.'

Intimate Space: 6 to 18 inches from the body. (Used in) whispering, comforting a child, or embracing a lover. (Blakeslee, 128)

Personal Space: 18 inches to 4 feet from the body. (Used in) talking to a friend. Has the same dimensions as peripersonal space. (Blakeslee, 128) The spatial separation most often used in the United States for friendly conversation. (McCornack, 232)

Social Space: 4 feet to 12 feet from the body. (Used in) talking to strangers, acquaintances, or your boss. (Blakeslee, 128) The spatial separation most often used in the United States for conversations between acquaintances and strangers. (McCornack, 232)

Public Space: the widest proxemic zone. It ranges outward from 12 feet and is most appropriate for formal settings. (McCornack, 232) For example, distance from an audience. (Blakeslee, 128)

Pressure: the force applied to a unit area of surface. (NCIt) Type of stress exerted uniformly in all directions. Its measure is the force exerted per unit area. (MeSH) Touch receptors send (the) brain information about pressure. Includes gentle pressure, deep pressure, sustained pressure, hair follicle bending, and vibration. (Blakeslee, 9)

Temperature: the hotness of a body expressed on a numerical scale. (Chapple, 246) The property of objects that determines the direction of heat flow when they are placed in direct thermal contact. The temperature is the energy of microscopic motions (vibrational and translational) of the particles of atoms. (MeSH) The property of a body or region of space that determines whether or not there will be a net flow of heat into it or out of it from a neighboring body or region and in which direction (if any) the heat will flow, perceptible by living organism as a somatic sensation of cold or heat. Temperature is measured in one of the three standard temperature scales: Celsius, Kelvin, and Fahrenheit. (NCIt)

Vibration: the action of vibrating or moving to and fro rapidly and repeatedly. (Oxford) A continuing periodic change in displacement with respect to a fixed reference. (MeSH)