How Can You Stop the Sensation of Being Tickled?

Happy mother tickling daughter lying on her bed at home.

There are thousands of nerve endings under your skin, and when these are stimulated by a light touch, it creates the tickle sensation. (Image: Antoniodiaz via Dreamstime)

Have you ever wondered why you can’t tickle yourself? Do you hate being tickled? Well, an expert in molecular biology and genetics has the answers.

There are thousands of nerve endings under your skin, and when these are stimulated by a person’s touch, the nerves send a message to your brain. The effect of a light tickling touch is the result of analysis by two different regions of your brain.

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2 cortexes create the sensation of being tickled

The somatosensory cortex evaluates the pressure associated with touch, and the anterior cingulate cortex then sends out pleasant feelings. When these two cortexes are put together, they create the sensation of being tickled. It only works with a light touch though.

Dr. Emily Grossman says that part of the reason why we are ticklish is because we don’t know what it will feel like. By placing your hand on the tickler’s hand, it will send a signal to your brain to expect it; therefore, you should not feel the tickle sensation. 

In this video, Dr. Emily  Grossman explains how your brain anticipates the movement of your hands, thus making it suppress the response to being tickled:

Grossman is a science presenter, educator, and also an expert in molecular biology and genetics with a Triple First in Natural Sciences from Queens College Cambridge, as well as a Ph.D. in cancer research.

I did try this technique, and for me, it seemed to work.

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