For humans, physical contact is a necessity, a source of well-being, makes them feel protected, loved and recognized. A single hug triggers chemical reactions in the body that help reduce stress and form emotional bonds with others. A hug can be crucial between life and death. Know the benefits of hugs.
During the Second World War shelters were created for the little ones who had lost their parents on the battlefield. The nurses bathed, dressed and fed them; However, many children died.
The specialists who analyzed this phenomenon concluded that one of the causes of the deaths was the lack of close physical contact, because the children needed hugs, caresses and other expressions of maternal love to survive.
Some researchers believe that for many mammals the first tactile experiences are fundamental, because when the skin of the newborn is massaged, the sensory impulses reach the brain and awaken the respiratory centers and other vital functions.
The skin has sensitive receptors that send signals to the cerebral cortex. This mechanism allows to perceive the cold, the heat, a caress, a squeeze, tickling, pinching and if a surface is soft or rough.
"Each area of the body is represented in the cerebral cortex: the eyelids, the ears, the feet, the sexual organs, the legs, the nape of the neck and so on; therefore, where they touch us, we will feel; although there are parts of our anatomy, such as the hands and lips, which occupy a larger space in the cerebral cortex and therefore, are more sensitive to stimuli, "explains the doctor Georgina Montemayor, academic of the Faculty of Medicine (FM) of the UNAM.
With the help of magnetic resonance, an instrument that generates images of the functioning brain, scientists have observed that when receiving a hug, a handshake or a caress, it releases a substance called oxytocin, which allows attachment, that is, what makes us look for each other.
"When we enjoy the company of someone without falling in love or sexual attraction, it is because being close to that person or hugging them we release oxytocin, which also allows us to feel relaxed, since it decreases the levels of cortisol and adrenaline, the hormones of the stress ", adds the specialist of the Department of Anatomy of the FM.
However, we do not experience the same when shaking a new acquaintance rather than a close friend. Some researches explain that when in contact with a loved one, sensitive receptors of the skin send signals that not only reach the cerebral cortex, but go to the limbic system, the area of the brain responsible for regulating emotions. During this process oxytocin is produced and, with it, the pleasant sensation of a close affective bond.
In short, the human brain has mechanisms that unleash attachment, the desire for closeness with others, especially those who are significant to us.
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