Why we show our affection by kissing?

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

Whenever we feel deep affection for someone, say a child, mom, dad, brother, sister, lover (or even a sibling), either we feel a strong desire to kiss that person or we show it through kissing. If the kissing is done on the lips, it will be more useful in that sense and hence will be more satisfying and increases our love for the other person. Have you noticed why babies always take everything towards their mouth to feel it? In addition to social norms or other things, the question is why humans opted to use lips as the top place of their body to get or to transform infatuation. There is a scientific explanation for it.

The skin on our body has got special receptors for touch, which can be divided into fine and crude touch receptors. Kissing will trigger both of these receptors. The sensations from the skin are conveyed either through the spinal cord or brainstem to higher centers in the brain. This is called somatic or sensory systems. Skin is the only organ having such an organized system of sensory input, no other organ of the body has got such an intricate arrangement.

As it covers all parts of the body, the skin covering the hands will be different than the skin covering the feet and so on. The difference is in several aspects, viz. thickness of skin, type of receptors present, number of receptors, the concentration of receptors, different underlying tissue of the skin, and the blood supply of that part of the skin. Just to quote an example, our fingertips have got more receptors for fine touch per millimeter cube than the whole of the sole. The mere concentration of some receptors will make a lot of difference in assessing, analyzing, and hence integrating the input of the touch.

Lips are not only having lots of fine and crude touch receptors per square millimeter as compared to other parts, but the underlying structure of the skin of lips is totally different than fingertips’ skin, for example. Lips have got more blood supply, so the metabolism of that part is higher than compared to other sensitive areas of our body, e.g. fingertips. Even all these factors combined together will not make much difference if it were not for another very important aspect of recognizing, analyzing and integrating the vast amount of data coming from these sensitive areas.

Each part of the sensory system is represented in our cerebral cortex, where higher centers for touch and other sensations are located. Lips are represented as a larger area in the cortex as compared to all the fingers combined, which are the second most sensitive areas of our bodies.

Not only more information can be taken per cubic millimeter from the lip area, but precise information can be perceived by lips than any other part. All this huge amount of data is then going to a CPU working at the highest gigahertz for lip area as compared to slightly lower for fingertips and lowest for our back or soles. Larger the area of representation in our brain for a part of the skin, more neurons will be involved in processing, hence more gigahertz processing power is used. In the end, very precise information is gathered when something is touched with the lips as compared to the fingertips. This precise information is then easily analyzed and conveyed to other areas of the brain and hence to all parts of the body to work on. Needless to emphasize, precise information will lead to an effective and efficient response.

Try checking the temperature of anything by first touching it with your fingertips and then with your lips. You will immediately know the difference, hence proved.


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