Friday, October 7, 2016
The Sixth Sense
It was once known that humans have 5 senses- taste, touch, hearing, smelling, and vision. However, it is now understood that we have a 6th sense called proprioception. Proprioception is the sense of knowing where your body is in space.
According to a previously conducted study in mice, it was determined that there is a gene called PIEZO2, which plays a role in this kind of sense. The PIEZO2 gene orders cells to produce mechanosensitive proteins, which provide the ability to sense force. According to the study, these proteins also play a role in proprioception.
Last month, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study from the National Institute of Health that observed the conditions of two patients with extremely rare mutations in the PIEZO2 gene. These patients were studied as they performed several tasks that require a certain sense of space while being blindfolded. The patients with this mutation has a difficult time completing these tasks without their sense of vision.
The researchers said that in previous findings, the PIEZO2 gene has been connected with a number of genetic musculoskeletal disorders. Researchers of a more recent study also suggest that the gene may be required for normal skeletal growth and development . It is possible that the sense of touch and proprioception play a role in skeletal development.
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