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How Many Human Senses Are There?

We are taught in school that the body has five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. However, experts now believe that there are quite a lot more—and the total number depends on the expert you are talking to and the definition they give to the word “sense.”

Some say that there are nine senses. Aside from the basic five, they include thermoception, nociception, equilibrioception, and proprioception. They also include the feeling of hunger and thirst. For them, a sense must be linked to particular sense organ that registers and interprets a stimuli. Hunger and thirst are also sometimes included. They do not include any interpretations made primarily by the brain. That is why they don’t think of intuition as a sense (even though many people call it the “sixth sense.” For them, intuition does not just perceive data from real experience, but makes a quick judgment based on data gathered by several sensory organs.

There are some experiences that will activate two or more senses. For example, sounds that are related with particular colors leads to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, which usually occurs after taking hallucinogenic drugs.

However, there are many far “mundane” senses outside of the five “basic” ones taught in school. For example there is the sense of balance called “Equilibrioception” which is “judged” by the fluids in the inner ear. There is also the sense of space called “Proprioception” which is checked by police offers during drunk driving tests. “Thermoception” is the sense of heat, and “nociception” is the sense of pain.

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