Science says you can’t tickle yourself because your brain knows you are the one doing the tickling, taking away the surprise factor. This negates the tickling sensation.
According to neuroscientists at the University of London, there are two parts of the brain responsible for how tickling is processed. These regions work together to trigger the tickling response when someone is tickling you.
According to a 2013 study by researchers from Eberhard Karls University, we laugh even when tickling isn’t a pleasurable feeling because a joke and a tickle both trigger the same part of your brain. Our ancestors might have submitted to aggression by laughing. It’s likely that our brain is processing being tickled as a threat. Hence, the tickling response.
So, why can’t we tickle ourselves? It appears to come down to our cerebellum (part of the brain) being able to predict it, therefore, canceling the effect out.
In other words, your cerebellum knows your hand is going to try and tickle you. Because of this, the sensation doesn’t take effect. It’s no longer a surprise, so the brain processes it differently.
If you spend a lot of time alone but really love being tickled, you can always get a tickling robot.
- Body parts with the most nerve endings are the most prone to tickling.
- Gorillas and rats also appear to be ticklish.