Friday, August 28, 2009

'Body orientation' should be considered as a physiological sense

As I'm unwell these days, and taking bedrest, I was imagining a computer-system that allows me to read news and write blog posts while I'm lying on the bed (getting bored). Then this thought came to my mind - with our eyes closed, we can always tell what the orientation of our body is (w.r.t. the imaginary vertical axis perpendicular to the surface of the earth, and passing through its core). We can confidently tell that our body is in any of the following orientations, even with our eyes closed
  1. Upright (the way we walk)
  2. Upside-down (like some criminals are hung during torture)
  3. Lying head-up (sleeping with chest facing the sky)
  4. Lying back-up (sleeping with our facing the sky)
And we can also tell whether our body is tilted (like our legs are upwards and head is downwards - something like a 45 degree line), and can compare less tilt to more tilt - all with our eyes closed. We can even draw our body's orientation on a paper without ever looking at ourselves in that configuration.

I went to Wikipedia and (briefly) read the following articles - Sense, Equilibrioception, Proprioception, and Aircraft attitude. Although equilibrioception and proprioception appear remotely related to body orientation, they don't seem to nail the concept completely.

Hence, I believe that body orientation should be considered as a physiological sense (if it's really not covered under the currently defined senses), since we seem to possess the ability to determine our body's absolute orientation (w.r.t. the earth's surface).

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