10 Common Misconceptions About Human Senses


Human senses are a vital part of how we experience the world. Yet, many of us hold mistaken beliefs about how our senses work. In this article, we will dive into 10 common misconceptions about our senses and find the truth behind them.

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Tongue taste zones

The myth of specific taste zones on the tongue for sweet, sour, salty, and bitter flavors comes from a misinterpretation of a study from 1901. In reality, all taste buds can detect all flavors, and the distribution of taste receptors is more complex and overlapping.

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Five senses limit

We have more than five senses. We have senses like proprioception (sense of body position), thermoception (sense of temperature), nociception (sense of pain), and equilibrioception (sense of balance), among others. These additional senses help us navigate and interact with our environment​​.

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Seeing in the dark

Our eyes need a small amount of light to see. The rod cells in our eyes work better in low light. They help us see shapes and movement but not colors. This is why things look gray at night. Our eyes have two kinds of cells: rods and cones. Cones help us see color and work best in bright light. At night, cones do not work as well, so we rely on rods.

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Blindness and enhanced senses

While some people who are blind may develop heightened abilities in other senses, it is because of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to reorganize itself) that it is not a universal rule. Each person’s experience is unique.

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Deaf people can’t enjoy music

People who are deaf or hard of hearing can experience music through vibrations, visual representations, and by feeling the beat. Technology like bone conduction headphones and visual interpreters can enhance this experience.

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Taste and smell work separately

Taste and smell work together. Most of what we think of as taste comes from our sense of smell. When our noses are blocked, like when we have a cold, it’s harder to taste things properly. That is why food can seem less flavorful when we are sick.

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Eyesight deterioration with age

While presbyopia (difficulty focusing on close objects) is common with age, regular eye exams and corrective lenses can help maintain good vision. Other age-related eye conditions, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, can also be managed with early detection and treatment​​.

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Hearing loss only affects loudness

Hearing loss is not only about volume. But it is more about how well people can listen to and understand words. It becomes worse when there is a lot of noise around. People use hearing aids because these make sounds louder and also clearer.

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Touch sensitivity is uniform

Touch sensitivity in our body is because of the numerous nerve endings in the body. Depending on which area the number of nerve endings is most, our sensitivity to touch also changes. For example, our fingertips, lips, and face have many nerve endings, so they are more sensitive. But other parts of our body, like our back or legs, have fewer nerve endings, so they are less sensitive to touch.

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Smell memory is weak

Our sense of smell is very closely linked to our emotions and memories. That is why certain scents can bring back strong memories or emotions. We generally call this connection the “Proustian effect”. Almost everyone one of us can feel the Proustian effect one time or another.


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