All of us are very familiar with the 5 traditional senses: touch, taste, hearing, smell, and vision.
The idea that we have 5 senses originally came from Aristotle. In his work, De Anima, he stated that humans have 5 “sense organs” (tongue, nose, ears, eyes, skin), each one responsible for a single sense (Johansen, 1999; Johns Hopkins University, 2012). However, what if I told you that our core senses don’t stop at just 5. In fact, many cognitive neuroscientists and psychologists have developed a much more inclusive view on our sensory perception. Today, let’s take a look at 3 additional senses that many scientists believe should be added to the original 5.
First let’s talk about “Interoception,” which refers to our ability to monitor our own internal state. The process of interoception occurs when our nervous system decodes sensory signals from our organs that give us information about our physiological needs. The feeling of hunger, tiredness, need for more oxygen, and stress are all examples of interoceptive processes (Chen et al., 2021).
Next, let’s examine “Proprioception,” which refers to our ability to detect our location in space. Inside our body, we have detailed circuits within our nervous system that provide our brain with constant feedback on the position of each body part and our body as a whole in our environment (Proske & Gandevia, 2020). For example, when you wake up in the middle of the night and reach for your phone with your eyes closed! What may seem like a simple action is actually quite complicated. Your brain must integrate it’s previous memory of where your phone is located with the proprioceptive sense of where your arm is, in relation to your phone.
Lastly, I want to take a look at “Equilibrioception,” which refers to our sense of balance and equilibrium. Under normal circumstances, our nervous system is excellent at providing information on the orientation of our head and body with reference to the vestibular system inside the inner ear (Fuchs, 2018).
As you can see, there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to our senses. As neurocognitive research continues to chug along, we will likely uncover even more hidden senses. With each new discovery, we are one step closer to fully understanding the marvelous contraption that is the human body!