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How the Brain Tells Apart Important and Unimportant Sensations

Neuroscience

Several recent studies point to a small, long-overlooked structure in the brain stem as a crucial gatekeeper for the body’s signals

Imagine you are playing the guitar. You’re seated, supporting the instrument’s weight across your lap. One hand strums; the other presses strings against the guitar’s neck to play chords. Your vision tracks sheet music on a page, and your hearing lets you listen to the sound. In addition, two other senses make playing this instrument possible. One of them, touch, tells you about your interactions with the guitar. Another, proprioception, tells you about your arms’ and hands’ positions and movements as you play. Together, these two capacities combine into what scientists call somatosensation, or body perception.

 

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